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Mike Thompson

When More is Less

Posted by Mike Thompson Apr 30, 2013

More friends, more money, more fun… “More” is generally considered a good thing. But there are plenty of times when “more” isn’t a good thing: more expensive, more difficult, more complex come to mind. The big hypervisor vendors have been focused on “more” in recent years. And in general this is good for consumers. More advanced storage capabilities – Cool! More powerful VMs – Nice! More advanced functionality – Good; even better if you actually use the functionality provided!  


The industry trend is that basic hypervisor technology is commoditizing quickly.  While core hypervisor functionality is still at the heart of customer demand, it is rapidly becoming table stakes. 


Despite efforts to leverage its dominant position with ESX® and vSphere®, VMware seems to have struggled to come up with an extension to its core capabilities that can sustain the same level of growth as they have had historically.  Given additional threats to its hypervisor base (with both OpenStack® and Microsoft®), VMware is still looking for the next blockbuster market: cloud, application development, operations extensions (e.g., monitoring, patch management). 


As the sale of the Shavlik® patch capabilities showed, extending into adjacent markets isn’t always easy.  VMware is now bundling add-on capabilities into “editions” that include more and more advanced capabilities. 


Microsoft, the master of the “no choice” bundle, is doing the same.  With Windows Server 2012® and System Center, you generally get everything and the kitchen sink, whether you will utilize it all or not.  The no-option bundle generally provides at least one “must have” component grouped with a bunch of lower priority components.  You put them together and reduce the price of the whole package, so that the price of the whole is less than what each piece costs separately.  That works just fine if you are a large enterprise planning to buy all of the pieces anyway.  However, if you are an SMB and/or just need a subset of the capabilities, this may cost more than what you’d pay if you had competitively priced á lá carte options or if you may not utilize all of the functionality provided in the bundle. 


Since this is not a new approach, most people will look critically at the upfront cost to decide what their viable options are and whether the “no choice” bundle is worth the initial purchase price.  But it is after the initial purchase where hidden costs may start to add up. 


We all know some products may be difficult to install and operate.  With companies trying to do more with less, many IT admins have to take on multiple responsibilities to keep the ship afloat.  If your only job is to manage one narrow area and you spend your entire day in one tool, you may like the cutting-edge features that require substantial time to learn, use, and maintain.  However, if you have to manage a variety of disparate tasks that require you to jump in quickly, figure out what is going on, solve it and move on to something else, then products can be a productivity and budget killer.  Bundled products include both easy to use and complex features, and if you don’t have time to spend on learning the idiosyncrasies of all of them, then you are not really maximizing the true extent of your investment.


The second hidden cost is maintenance.  While the purchase price may look great, the initial purchase price may not look so great when, a year later, you have to start paying maintenance.  Again, maintenance is valuable for products you need, but oftentimes, many of these add-on capabilities become shelfware. 


So, what is the answer? It is pretty simple if you have confidence that the software products you are selling will deliver on their promise of value, you would offer them all at an affordable price and you would let the customer buy just what they need. 


Hmm, that sounds familiar.


And So, It Ends...

Posted by TiffanyNels Apr 4, 2013

Our final battle was an epic match-up of Trekker proportion.


Q vs Spock…  Honestly, I am not 100% sure that Spock “won.” We are fairly certain our community decided that Q needed to “lose.”


PotAto, PotAHto…


Spock faced down Q in an all Star Trek Final Judgment battle, using his logic to take on Q’s omnipotence. Spock and Q each had to handle a murderer’s row of resurrected challengers, before they could get to each other:

-    For Q, this line-up was comprised of Neo, the Infinite Improbability Drive, the Borg and Number 6.

-    Spock, on the other hand, had to out think Darth Vader, the 10th Doctor, Kaylee and River Tam.


In the end, Spock stands alone and will be crowned the Intergalactic Champion of the SolarWinds Sci-Fi Bracket Battle 2013.


Live long and Prosper!


All judgments aside, we wanted to extend a hearty thank you to the members of our community – both new and old – who voted, debated, tweeted, etc in the bracket battle.


We had a great time and we hope that you did as well.


And while the Bracket Battle of 2013 has come to close…  we are already thinking about options for 2014.


What say y’all?  Take to the comments and let us know!


Should we stick with the lasers and light sabres?


Or, do we take inspiration from Super Smash Brothers and send Pac-Man into the ring against Alex Mason?


Lately, we have been contemplating how Gandalf might fare against the White Walkers…

Today, we released the results of a survey that looked into IT spending by SMEs in the UK and Germany. We’re heartened to see that investment in IT management software appears to have survived the inevitable recession-driven budget cuts implemented by many businesses, and most companies are continuing to invest in IT as a strategic priority.


Worryingly, though, our survey suggested that as much as 87 per cent of the software bought by SMEs in the UK isn’t delivering its full potential. In fact, more than three quarters of companies we spoke to said that, on average, 12 per cent of software purchases aren’t used.


We see many vendors selling products that are expensive, difficult to install and hard to use, so it’s no surprise that companies are struggling to get the most from them. SMEs need to ensure that the software they buy is working hard for them and delivering results from day one. Simplicity is essential and avoiding bundled products which include unnecessary elements will ensure businesses get the best value for money.


This is the first in a series of surveys, and will look at the pressures facing IT managers today. We’ve also taken a look at who looks after IT in SMEs, and the importance of an IT manager. Often, particularly in the very smallest companies, we see business owners taking on responsibility for looking after IT – a dedicated IT manager isn’t in place. But this proves a huge time-sink – in fact, where IT wasn’t their main responsibility one third of UK respondents said that they spend an overwhelming 30 per cent of their time managing IT issues.


For further details, and to see how this picture compares with businesses in Germany, check out the full survey here:

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