This conversation … its just so enjoyable … I must have it again … no … really …

Customer: We were told you make really fast tightly coupled storage and computing systems.

Me (in my best Dr. Galakowicz voice): Yes, yes we do. They are fast. Really fast. Did I mention, they are fast?

Customer: Thats great, ’cause we need fast! Fast is really important to us. Fast is good. Really fast. Fast. … er … but we have a problem.

Me: yes?

Customer: er … we can only buy from vendor X … they won’t let us buy anything else

Me: Even if you have a quantifiable business need, and your projects objectives wouldn’t be met by vendor X’s slow stuff, which represents an effective existential project risk?

Customer: er … uh … yes.

Me: [hits the mute button, and palm inelastically scatters from forehead)

I see lots of this. Customers need something, that they aren’t allowed to get, and their projects are at risk as a result of their not being able to get something. Somehow, accepting project failure is collateral damage for faux risk aversion.

OTOH, we see enlightend customers focus upon solving the problems, and selecting from the solutions to the problem. Its a question of how you manage risk … is the risk of failure of important projects greater or less than the risk of a “new” platform? The political price people have to pay to get what they need to accomplish their jobs is huge in some cases. When a cost center service organization has the power to completely dictate what the pointy end of the profit making organization may and may not do … thats the sign of an ossified organization unable to adapt to change, and not cognizant of how they are increasing their risk by not being able to adapt. When change comes to such organizations, it comes in fairly sizable shocks.

You sink or you swim. Swimmers adapt.

We’ve had customers ask us to take their brand X gear, and replace the innards with our bits. No, seriously.

When the label means that much, something ain’t entirely right.

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3 thoughts on “This conversation … its just so enjoyable … I must have it again … no … really …

  1. And in our case, no vendor with a contract with the state means a long, laborious bidding process even for relatively small, gift-money-funded purchases. No one was able to match your offerings, and we eventually went another inferior route. Annoying.

  2. … at which point, you of course asked, “Well then, why are you calling me?”

    Seriously, why *was* he calling you, given his situation?

  3. I deleted my original response …

    @Jason: I am actually wondering whether or not these exclusive arrangements I see universities have with various vendors are legal. That is, I’d bet that they cross the line of the various purchasing regulations mandated by state law for public universities. I haven’t explored this. I am guessing that some pissed off smaller vendor will soon enough. Thats gonna cost some school quite a bundle.

    @Sam: that was one of many questions that popped into my head afterwords. I do feel bad for these folks, they are often bound to use completely inappropriate hardware for their tasks. My guess is that they are looking for ammunition to go hunting as it were, and take down bad rules.

    The most innovative groups we work with don’t let this get in their way. They make the powers that be understand that the success of mission is of far greater consequence than brand name label on the front of a box of (generally similar) parts. The groups who are working up to that level arm themselves with as much ammunition as possible. The groups that can’t make these changes, and have no hope, I do feel sorry for. There is little we can do to get hardware into their site. But we do give them options even then.

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