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Keeping Promises and Excuses ! September 6, 2006

Posted by poseidongroove in Edge Thinking, IBM, Java, Oracle, ThingsPrime, Weblogs, Work.
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The last month has been incredibly busy, managing three invitation to tender process, vendor selection, due diligence, architecture blueprint etc etc. In all this time, I’ve not had a chance to complete three blog posts I’ve drafted.

Excuses, excuses, you might say. Things should get better from next month when we start to implement all these components. I’m near the end of the vendor selection process for the platforms we’re deploying for the customer. I’ll publish the promised Thingsprime slides and podcast hopefully, within the next couple of weeks. Apologies to all the folks that attended the meeting.

A few anecdotes from the last few months, The biggest vendors in the world are not the best people to buy software from. Trust me. Two of the biggest software vendors in the world were invited to respond to our RFPs shot themselves in the foot. If you go to their website they proclaim you should trust them to run your online/offline business using their software.

In both cases,I was really disappointed. We sent out Invitation to Tender documents to the email addresses they advertised. They failed to respond to the RFIs on time, and then passed it on to re-sellers, then I got more internal sales folks calling me to change the deadline for submission also trying to flog me more stuff.

In both cases, I know Senior VPs in the companies and reported this. It would have been unfair on all the other software companies that responded if I’d allowed them to submit their responses after the deadline. We dropped them from the shortlist ! I don’t care if I’m fired for not buying from a big vendor. I live on principles when it comes to architecture. Hygiene is my motto not compromise !

If you think buying from the biggest software companies is good for you, think again. Are they partnering with you in your journey or flogging you everything including armies of developers ?

I believe it’s important when you put together an architecture that you make sure you don’t compromise it by buying the entire toolbox from a single source. An example is because, you’re buying IBM Websphere Application Server, you have to go all the way and buy Websphere Enterprise. (42 install shields and counting mate !). Same applies to Oracle.(note, I’m not saying they are the vendors in the above case).

One of my friends who is an architect with a local authority in the UK told me how they bought software recently. They’d completed due dilligence and recommended they use a mixture of open source and commercial software. They also went on training courses for the reccomended stack.

The senior managers who know nothing about technology decided to go out and buy everything from Oracle. My architect friend and his J2EE developers have suddenly started programming in PL/SQL. What took another local authority 6months to deliver is now taking them almost two years and wasted council tax revenue. Thanks to the army of PL/SQL programmers locking them into the database forever. Sweet !!

If you’re running an RFI process, always ask the vendors to submit their javadoc/netdoc whatever for their entire stack. Get your developers to review it and ensure all that flashy Powerpoint about the entire platform stack being one integrated piece really does stand up to scrutiny. In several cases, I’ve seen recently, the APIs are so different you just know you’re asking for trouble. Make sure you generate business case benefits for each solution you’re buying as well otherwise, it’s easy for senior managers to override your selection process.

Finally, outside of the RFI I needed to buy an essential item from one of these vendors, I was able to extract a massive discount on the list price from them as compensation! Win some loose some.

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