Infrastructure Technology Spend – Do vendor’s over-promise or is it something else?

By Luke Lim.

Have you got loads of systems, tools and technologies in your infrastructure that are not quite realizing the full unadulterated value that was promised by the vendor?

The first place you might look to understand why this is can be to look at the vendor’s and the promises made prior to signing up for their solution. Being oversold/overpromised is a major thorn in our technology spend with many fearing the consequences of investing in products that despite sounding straight forward, still struggle to hit the mark. Although this concept of overpromises may be true in some cases, quite often it can be attributed to vendors keeping focused on their core solution function and not deviating too far from that.

To try and explain this further, there will undoubtedly have been times when working with a vendor solution that someone highlights that it needs to integrate functionality with one or many other things to achieve what is needed. This is where “realizing the full unadulterated value” becomes something that is achieved, or not. Fundamentally, a vendor’s product is designed to cover as many user’s as possible. To gain a real value add to the business requires that product to be pulled in to solve the company’s business and/or operational problem. Not a generic, one size fits all problem, but something specific to an individual company. In order to achieve this, cross platform/technology integration and automation is required. It is at this point, at the edge of a products core function, that vendors will say… “We have API’s that covers all of that”, “Here is the API documentation”! This can often leave us scratching our heads thinking, what do I do with that?!

Information Overload

In my experience, each platform/product within the infrastructure and tooling landscape is very good at its intended function. However, each platform/product can easily fall short of expectation due to mis-aligned pre-requisites or a lack of understanding of how products complement and assist each other. Thus, ultimately falling short of realizing the overall value to the business. In my opinion, this is one key reason why integration and automation are long serving hot topics in our industry. There are well known conceptual benefits of bringing automation to IT and from what I have seen, organizations are at varying stages within industry in their journey to automation. There are many good reasons for this, perhaps cultural, organizational, and at a lower level something I refer to as the automation skills gap (which I have written about in a separate post).

To move the journey to automation forward within your environment, my suggestion would be to not look at individual “products” within your environment that are perceived as not delivering and need replacing. First review the use cases that are causing the most pain and problems within your domain and equally as importantly across domains. Is it people, process, technology, or innovation that is lacking or behind where it should be. Understanding this will uncover any individual products that are in fact legacy and need replacing, and moreover will uncover the solutions that are good but not being used to their full potential. “Full potential” will likely only be achieved when products and processes are integrated to deliver the greater efficiency, reduced human error, etc. promises that automation brings to our industry.

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