So what about vendor or technology lock in?
So who is responsible for vendor or technology lock in? When I was working in IT organizations, (e.g. what vendors call the customer) the thinking was vendors are responsible for lock in. Later when I worked for different vendors (manufactures and VARs) the thinking was lock in is what was caused by the competition. More recently I’m of the mind set that vendor lock in is a shared responsibility issue and topic. I’m sure some marketing wiz or sales type will be happy to explain the subtle differences of how their solution does not cause lock in.
Vendor lock in can be a shared responsibility. Generally speaking, lock in, stickiness and account control are essentially the same, or at least strive to get similar results. For example, vendor lock in too some has a negative stigma. However vendor stickiness may be a new term, perhaps even sounding cool thus it is not a concern. Remember the Mary Poppins song a spoon full of sugar makes the medicine go down? In other words, sometimes changing and using a different term such as sticky vs. vendor lock in helps make the situation taste better.
So what should you do?
Take a closer look if you are considering converged infrastructures, cloud or data centers in a box, turnkey application or information services deployment platforms. Likewise, if you are looking at specific technologies such as those from Cisco UCS, Dell vStart, EMC Vblock (or via VCE), HP, NetApp FlexPod or Oracle (ExaLogic, ExaData, etc) among others, also check out the IBM PureSystems (Flex and PureApplication). Compare and contrast these converged solutions with your traditional procurement and deployment modes including cost of acquiring hardware, software, ongoing maintenance or service fees along with value or benefit of bundled tools. There may be a higher cost for converged systems in some scenarios, however compare on the value and benefit derived vs. doing the integration yourself.
Compare and contrast how converged solutions enable, however also consider what constraints exists in terms of flexibility to reconfigure in the future or make other changes. For example as part of integration, does a solution take a lowest common denominator approach to software and firmware revisions for compatibility that may lag behind what you can apply to standalone components. Also, compare and contrast various reference architectures with different solution bundles or packages.
Most importantly compare and evaluate the solutions on their ability to meet and exceed your base requirements while adding value and enabling return on innovation while also being cost-effective. Do not be scared of these bundled solutions; however do your homework to make informed decisions including overcoming any concerns of lock in or future costs and fees. While these types of solutions are cool or interesting from a technology perspective and can streamline acquisition and deployment, make sure that there is a business benefit that can be addressed as well as enablement of new capabilities.
So what does this all mean?
Congratulations to IBM with their PureSystems for leveraging their DNA and roots bundling what had been unbundled before cloud and stacks were popular and trendy. IBM has done a good job of talking vision and strategy along lines of converged and dynamic, elastic and smart, clouds and other themes for past couple of years while selling the pieces as parts of solutions or ala carte or packaged by their ISVs and business partners.
What will be interesting to see is if bladecenter customers shift to buying PureFlex, which should be an immediate boost to give proof points of adoption, while essentially up selling what was previously available. However, more interesting will be to see if net overall new customers and footprints are sold as opposed to simply selling a newer and enhanced version of previous components.
In other words will IBM be able to keep up their focus and execution where they have sold the previous available components, while also holding onto current ISV and BP footprint sales and perhaps enabling those partners to recapture some hardware and solution sales that had been unbundled (e.g. ISV software sold separate of IBM platforms) and move into new adjacent markets.