Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Story About Vendor Selection and FUD

The shocking (at least to me) story of Oracle acquiring Sun yesterday made me think about an experience I had helping a client in the vendor selection process late last year.

The client was seeking an identity solution, and with our help, reduced the vendors to Sun, another large vendor and a small boutique vendor. After their demos/POCs, the vendor scoring matrix we helped them put together showed that the boutique vendor actually ended up with the highest score.

After some great FUD work from the sales folk, the client decided to add a new metric in the matrix for Company Viability. All of a sudden, Sun came out on top...and the solution was purchased and implemented. The whole reason the boutique vendor lost out was because of fear and the likeliness of acquisition or failure, etc.

A few months later...Sun is on the block, and finally inks a deal. Now I'm hearing that the client is worried about the direction of the Sun product line post-acquisition, because of the heavy overlap between the Sun and Oracle product lines. (And also worried about what Oracle will do to Sun's open source initiatives.)

Now the smaller vendors are having their say (and they should). Here is an interesting perspective from a Network World article:

"Figuring out what stays, what goes, and integrating the remaining pieces is going to be an enormous task that will undoubtedly create consequences for deployed customers," says Andre Duran, CEO of Ping Identity, which develops identity federation software. "This is yet one more reason companies should consider standards-based, loosely coupled approaches, as it insulates them from the potential for single vendor lock-in, which is occurring irrespective of how they are selecting their vendors."
...
Blakley says as the deal closes, Oracle management likely won't address identity until the more compelling strategies, such as the database, are worked out. "So there will be a period where not much happens and it is business as usual."

3 comments:

Robert said...

Ash,
As a "boutique vendor" in this space, we have seen the viability issue time and again. Our CEO likes to boast that an Oracle executive once told him "We're going crush you in six months"... three years ago. As Kurt Johnson points out (http://blog.courion.com/), the real question is committment, "True vendor viability concerns should be focused on these larger organizations and prospective customers need to look carefully at the nature of their commitment and the viability of their overall business. The commitment these organizations have to IAM should be a major concern."

Ashraf Motiwala said...

Robert...can you say 'Reverse-FUD'?! :)

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