Monday 8 February 2010

TCO - Why is it so hard for some?

Now per as my previous blog entries show-me-money-information & tco-time-for-opensource-framework discuss, I have to make architecture & standards changes & decisions based upon tco & roi calculations. Accordingly we require vendors to be able to demonstrate to me that they understand the TCO/ROI of their products & architectures (I have my views but need to understand theirs and validate / align forecasts), and of course provide me with copies of their models & values.

Okay, so 4 months ago I renewed my simple request to EMC for a TCO model comparing DMX+CX with VMax (in essence to compare 'between box' vs 'within box' tiers). A simple enough request I thought - and one I made initially several years ago (at that time comparing DMX to DMX+CX), but never got anywhere. This time a specific project planning to purchase PB+ of capacity drove me to renew this request.

Now four months on and, despite me chasing, I still haven't received anything from EMC, nor have I even been given an estimate as to when / if I might see something. So I'm forced to conclude that Uncle Joe and the Elusive Mathematical Calculators are either: -
  • Ignoring the request
  • Don't understand (or care) about TCO & ROI, preferring to focus on leasing or 'regular technology refresh purchase justification business cases'
  • Aren't able to explain the customer value of their different products and architectures
  • Are hiding something
  • Prefer slick & vocal marketing to facts
  • Trying to hire somebody to work on the topic
To me nowadays EMC are a company of conflicts, some of the things they do (& have) are the best bar none, other things sadly are the worse. As @storagebod pointed out here social-climbing that EMC are indeed changing for the positive but I suspect not as fast or thoroughly as they/we would like. Which means unltimately, despite changes, they are still a monthly/quarterly financial engineering orientated engine with a sales & target structure that 'reverts to past form' when deals are being discussed.

Now EMC aren't alone in this, to compare this with how some other companies have reacted to similar requests :-
  • Netapp are sadly still trying to understand the question for a couple of years ago.
  • Cisco are still searching for unicorns to breed, and admitted at NetWorker2010 that it will be a couple more months before anything surfaces. I've been requesting the ROI & TCO of the California/UCS platform for over a year (yes well before it went public), so I'm mystified that nothing yet exists as a model.
  • However on the positive front, HDS immediately answered, providing David Merrill and his team, how arrived with a variety of information, models and reviews. Lots of dialogue and transparency, and a variety of TCO & ROI models provided. So the request is possible and some do understand.
What some companies (or parts of companies) still appear to fail to grasp is that the 1990s tactics of poorly marketing, shouting loudly, 'special for you today only' sales negotiations, 'influencing' ISVs or mngt simply won't work any more. Customers need more data & benefit forecast models nowadays in order to justify usage or purchase decisions, and I fail to believe that these models aren't used when a dev team is seeking approval to create the product in the first place! I'd like to be less cynical or disappointed, but without the information to support the claims from some vendors its hard not to be...


  1. Hi

    As I read this as an EMC employee, I'm frustrated. I mean, we do this all the time with our customers -- I see it every day.

    I'd like to better understand the specifics here. This bothers me.

    -- Chuck

  2. Ever get the feeling that a company doesn't want your business badly enough?

    That wpould likely fall in the category "ignoring your request".

    Clearly you need a better contact within these vendors. And it is very likely that Joe is unaware that they're not doing their jobs. If he knew, they wouldn't have theirs for long.

  3. Ian

    Thanks for the endorsement. Luckily for you this is not a one-off encounter or offering at HDS. I am tracking over 800 formal engagements and hundreds of less formal ones over the past 9 years. Storage Economics, and economically superior architecture is an essential topic in today's business environment.

    I keep training stoage econ black belts and blue-belts around the world. Heck, for the amount of time we spent together last year building and modifying VF models you should be at least a brown-belt.


  4. I read through the comments posted here... and a certain response made me laugh - especially in light of recent "of course it makes financial sense" claims on vBlock... really? does it? no one has been able to articulate any TCO that is not unreasonably biased.... As per Mr Grumpy's comment - just being able to give a sales pitch louder than the next guy does not sell anymore....

  5. Hmmmmm nice follow up on twitter... I guess no one really did want to answer your questions :-(

  6. This is in lie with what we found, as well. HDS are hungry for business and not only price aggressively but also offer business models that match the needs of corporaitons struggling to meet elastic demand with inelastic budgets.

  7. Cisco now has a TCO tool that can be fine tuned to show real cost saving results results based on individual customer needs for UCS and Cisco DC 3.0 products. The tool is fairly transparent so no behind the scenes numbers games. Your Cisco channel should be able to run through the tool with you and get you the numbers your looking for.

    I definitely agree that vendors as a whole need to get better at getting this information out more quickly. Cool technology is great, but $$$ is what ends up making real decisions.