The end-to-end argument has continued ever since 1981 when JH Saltzer, D Reed and DD Clark developed the concept in a paper entitled End-to-end arguments in system design.
While most people would need a degree in computer science to fully understand the paper, the basic concept is relatively simple: the communications of a computer system should occur mainly at the end-points, with some processing in between. This in-between processing can, however, be kept to a minimum, as it is the end-to-end processing that makes the system work.
But like many concepts in the IT sector, end-to-end has been changed by years of Chinese whispers and has taken on several different meanings. Some think it simply means being able to provide an entire system, from printers to networking to high-end servers; some think of its as connectivity, providing communication from one end to the other over a network; and others see it as all of one part of a solution, end-to-end printing, for example.
But while theorising has its place, it doesn’t tend to make the cash register ping. And while the end-to-end concept can make an impact on customers who are still naive enough to believe in it, if the promise is not fulfilled, it is likely to lead to the end of a contact.
The most common concept of end-to-end in the channel is being able to effectively provide an entire solution for a customer, from the high-end servers right down to the PDA software. While there are VARs who have this capability, the number that can – or would even want to – design, deploy and maintain end-to-end is still small.
From an end-user perspective it is not about providing lorry loads of kit. It is about taking responsibility. Even though VARs may not be able to offer end-to-end technology, managing end-to-end is equally important to end-users, most of whom want a hassle-free IT system that works, apparently provided by a single provider. How many partners are really behind the solution is irrelevant as long as someone has taken end-to-end responsibility.
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