To companies who still buy IT solutions the same way they did 20 years ago: It’s time for a change
If you weren’t already in tech, you might be surprised by how old-fashioned many companies are when it comes to buying new business IT solutions. But if you’re here, you’ve probably already butted heads over purchase decisions with more than a few folks who would seem to be happier if we kept all our data in boxes full of punch cards.
The old way to buy IT solutions started back in the ‘60s. That’s when companies outside of academia and defense departments started to see the value of computers and bought them en masse. At that point, hardware and software were seen as separate entities — aside from making sure one was compatible with the other, it made sense to track them as distinct line items. Companies would then plan their budgets based on how long they projected each piece of tech would last, using those estimates of cost versus expense to decide what they’d buy outright, lease, or finance.
This old-guard mindset is predicated on the idea that you have to commit to technology for a long time — which makes sense when you’re literally trucking it all in and dedicating rooms to mainframes (or, later, on-premises server racks). But the realities of assembling business IT solutions have evolved, and failing to pay attention often means wasted dollars.
A New Approach to Buying Business IT Solutions
It’s time to shift your mindset. Just because one process has served your company well for the last 10, 20, or even 30 years of shopping for business IT solutions doesn’t mean it still will today. We’re not proposing you throw out all the methods that you know work. We’re just asking you to re-evaluate how you know they work.
Let’s start by looking at all the IT solutions out there today. We mean all of them, not just a handful based on what your competitors and “leaders in the space” are doing. Instead of simply following the herd, evaluate each of these options according to your business needs. Sounds obvious, right? We all do this intuitively every day. But intuition doesn’t cut it when deciding what will essentially be a new nervous system for your organization.
Formalize your process. That way, you know you’re choosing the right option based on the information available to you — and you’ll be able to prove it to your bosses or investors since a well-sourced spreadsheet goes a lot further than a “good feeling.”
Not sure where to start? When we help businesses buy IT solutions at Roundstone we use a rating system that factors in business priorities as well as known and estimated expenses for a range of solutions. Here’s how we used that rating system to help three companies make better buying decisions:
From ‘All-In On the Cloud’ to Practical On-Premises
A client in the public sector came to us with a new taxpayer-facing application they planned to deploy. Management said they were going “all in” on moving to the public cloud for this application despite having quite a bit of capacity left on the infrastructure they already owned. That last part rang some alarm bells for us as soon as they brought us in.
After a discussion, we took the client through an analysis of the operational requirements of the new workload. We looked at how it would be handled in the public cloud or on-premises using their existing Nutanix deployment. While both would suffice, when we went through the financial analysis, it was clear that on-premises on Nutanix was less than half the cost of the public cloud.
Having done their homework and seeing the two alternatives clearly, the client decided to deploy on-premises with Nutanix.
Taking a Hybrid Approach
A client in the commercial sector wondered whether the public cloud would be a better place to run infrastructure than their existing, three-tier, on-premises environment. They engaged us to take them through an evaluation of all their options.
We looked at the operational considerations of their existing infrastructure, organizational factors, and costs. As a result of the evaluation, the client determined that the public cloud would best serve a small subset of their workloads. The remainder, however, were much better off on-premises.
They then asked us whether their legacy three-tier or hyper-converged infrastructure would make the most sense going forward. We’re currently working together to find the answer.
Bringing Direction to the Doldrums
A different commercial sector client came to us with a large, legacy three-tier infrastructure. They had been in business for many years, and their staff was set in their ways — they didn’t want to consider more modern alternatives. Working with their management, we explained the need for formal evaluations before deciding which infrastructure options to select.
We took the client through our evaluation process and used their numbers to compare their legacy three-tier infrastructure to a modern hyper-converged infrastructure. Both options could support the workloads, but HCI was the clear winner on simplicity and price. In fact, HCI was roughly half the price of their current setup.
The client quickly deployed Nutanix for some newer workloads. It’s now moving existing workloads over to Nutanix at an increasing rate.
Why the Old Way Keeps Hanging On
Like we said at the start, that old-fashioned approach to buying new-fashioned things is only a surprise if you’re on the outside looking in. But it’s still worth breaking down what contributes to this unproductive mindset so it’s easier to rid your own organization of any similar baggage.
This reluctance to change is simple for employees lower on the reporting chain: The manager points them toward a product and leaves no room for questions. Even if the employee suspects alternative business IT solutions would serve their purposes better, they feel too apprehensive about pushing back on these edicts to rock the boat. They keep their heads down and keep moving.
For upper management, as we’ve found many times over, it’s simply a case of herd mentality. One example: The headlines talk about a great cloud migration, so managers feel they must join in or risk their boss asking why they aren’t doing anything with all this “cloud” stuff they keep hearing about. But this type of deliberation doesn’t stop to differentiate your company from your competition, which is a fatal flaw for a business decision at any level.
Let Us Help You Find the Right Fit
All business IT solutions have merits. But those merits are seldom one-size-fits-all. Instead of simply following your intuition — or following what a few high-profile names in your industry are doing — put in the work to figure out what is right for your business.
Do some research to formalize your processes, then apply those processes to all the solutions that may make sense for your business. Even if your formal process does lead you to the same trendy solution, you’ll know why it will work for your company and be ready to use it to its fullest potential.
At Roundstone, we’ve helped everything from start-ups to large enterprises find the solutions that work best for their needs. If you want some more practical guidance on how to buy IT solutions that will give you the best results, talk to us first. We’re happy to help.
Tim Joyce, Founder, Roundstone Solutions