Purchasing data center equipment is a fairly challenging task for IT leadership. The business leaders put great trust in their IT team to evaluate and purchase the right equipment. It’s a fine balance most that have no idea that goes on within IT. It’s a balance or trade off between cost and performance. Smart IT leaders are very careful with IT budget dollars. Too much spent on one tech stack leaves not enough cash in the quarter to pay for something else. And one thing any IT leader learns is burnt once, twice shy. Large IT failure causes a ripple effect of devastation and repeated failures are enough to keep even the most seasoned IT veteran up at night. So what 3 pearls of wisdom do I have for IT leaders around the world today? 

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DON’T GET RIPPED OFF. Large companies have needs that smaller IT vendors don’t have. They need to pay out executive bonuses and ensure margins are high enough to please shareholders. These hyerscalers were once small companies offering great value. What happened?  They got big. Some got greedy. They employ huge teams and quality can suffer. Their data center best practice blogs are often written by someone who has never step foot in a data center. It’s become a numbers game for the hyperscalers, a volume play. They matured and increased the number of services they offer. Going from something once simple to something far more complex. Creating more options, more add-ons. And it’s easy to over-spend. When IT staff go to purchase from large cloud vendors like AWS, they mistakenly set a high upper threshold capacity and end up over paying for services they never use. IT staff over buys since they come from a capital equipment environment, afraid of running out of critical capacity and also needing to allow for business growth.  So buyer beware, the cloud is not what it used to be. Seek out smaller cloud vendors that can provide a white glove experience and help you get a more custom fit from the beginning. Smaller vendors are hungry for business and many focus on cost and customer service as differentiators. You are not one of billions to them and if things go wrong you can probably call the president and get a hold of them rather sit helplessly in the Service queue refreshing the STATUS screen hoping things get better. 

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STAY  IN CONTROL. Many high end hardware vendors were caught off guard by the speed that IT leaders adopted cloud technologies. Despite the lack of control and increased security risks, IT leaders quickly and continually, throw BILLIONS at cloud vendors. Why? The price starts out great and it’s easy to do. It’s instant outsourcing without having to deal with those pesky and sometimes out right annoying IT Sales Reps. The traditional high end data center vendors are slow to meet the challenge created by this rapid cloud adoption. A centralized SaaS or cloud-based console is a great hurdle for many HW vendors to overcome. It’s critical to have a management console that is easy and concise. IT staff turns over rapidly so the management tools must be easy to learn and operate. The business side of IT is challenging enough, managing the infrastructure needs to be simplified. Traditional HW vendors have embedded management tools. It’s difficult to port these to a SaaS-based app that is federated and also fenced off for each customer. This technical hurdle is slowing them and their customers down. They are in a limbo between cloud and traditional, high performing, on premises hardware. Since on premises hardware provides the ultimate control, seek a cloud vendor that has a management console that keeps you in control. This is especially true in managed services. Being able to take over at any moment is  key consideration for business continuity, cyber security, response to cyberattacks and disaster recovery. 

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WATCH THE NETWORK. Everyone is talking about over-paying for CPU cycles but few mention the network pricing. Why? Real global, high performance, network expertise is actually few and far between and business leaders don’t really understand network technologies compared to a server which they can relate to as a giant PC. Most business leaders have no idea what an OSI model is or the difference between layer 3 or 4. Everyone has been focusing on coding and software. The physics of IT are slowly being hidden by software, virtualization, SDN, etc. So the expertise of network technologies is slowly dwindling. The cloud vendors charge your for every bit that leaves their cloud and goes across the public internet. Some start charging as soon as you go over 1 Gbyte! It gets very expensive, very fast. Now think how hard it would be if you are experiencing a performance or data integrity issue to speak to a big cloud vendor’s senior network engineering staff? It would be IMPOSSIBLE. They are too busy if there was a problem to speak to a single customer. Seek out a cloud or managed service vendor who has seasoned network professionals on staff. They have a capable network security (DDoS, cyberattack) and CDN performance strategy with the Tbps global bandwidth their customer-base requires. 

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