In the past, companies such as Cisco have heavily promoted the use of a single vendor (no prizes for guessing which one) across network architecture. They tended to argue that it was an easier, more cost-effective way to build and maintain datacentres.
However, many organisations today claim it is no longer practical to rely on just one manufacturer. And far from being cheaper and easier, it can increase prices and make for a more rigid system.
Being tied to a single vendor may suffocate the opportunity to enjoy competitive bidding from other vendors. The only clout businesses have comes during negotiation of the initial purchase.
To secure the business, a vendor may initially offer an attractive price, but once the deal is solidified, it is extremely difficult to renegotiate this price.
Furthermore, it is almost unheard of for a single vendor to provide the best components for each individual aspect in an infrastructure. A customer may have to settle for products that are a good fit for their network, but not the best.
Opting for a vendor-agnostic approach means you can select from a wider range tools for specific jobs, with more chance of optimising cost and quality. And organisations now realise this.
While some may worry that adding technology vendors will serve only to increase the complexity of their network, I do not believe this is the case.
Also, companies should reassess their relationships and contracts with vendors regularly, no matter how long-standing they may be.
Obviously, offerings need to integrate well with other systems, especially as IT change accelerates, and this can be done in a way that makes it easier to adopt newer technologies without reinventing the wheel. And this can be done,for example, by working with independent third parties.
Avoiding vendor lock-in is obviously key to controlling costs and also ultimate interoperability.
Justin Hadler is director of engineering at Hardware.com
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