Friday, January 15, 2010

Giving the Right Answers

Storagebod has an interesting post up about the questions customers ask vendors.  It is definitely a good read and the comments are good food for thought.  The main question I think should be asked during RFPs is "give me customer references that have gone through a very similar migration as we would be faced if we chose your solution."  While customer references are always glowing and refereed, these type of references can (and have) offer common gotchyas.

What I'd like to touch on is vendor responses to questions.  What I'd like to see is more blunt answers that actually help the customer with the actual implementation.  Answers such as:
  • "That is a supported configuration.  However, we'd recommend that you do it this way..." - Too often, I've seen responses that just indicate whether or not a given configuration is supported... not if it makes sense with the equipment in question.
  • "While with your current architecture, having that type of drive configuration made sense... in the proposed solution, it does not and this is why." - No two storage platforms behave the same... questions are driven by past experience with whatever vendor is currently in house.  The responses should guide the customer to better solutions... not simply forklifting what is currently installed with a differently badged environment.  Of course, explain why there are deviations, but don't allow for a tray of 15 10k 73GB drives if it isn't optimum on the suggested architecture, for example.
  • "No.  We do not provide that functionality.  We actually do not plan on providing that functionality due to." - If there is functionality that the proposed solution does not provide, and there isn't a concrete date for implementation, don't even respond with "it's coming."  One or two missing "nice to haves" probably isn't going to make a difference during vendor selection (cost will come into play typically before that).
Basically, I'd rather see blunt responses that indicate where the customer is being stupid/misguided than a glowing RFP response that doesn't quite paint an accurate picture.

No comments: