Vendor Upheaval Overrated

Jerry Caron
Jerry Caron

Summary Bullets:

  • It is questionable whether vendor difficulties or management upheaval should be a major concern when making an IT buying decision.
  • Due diligence is important, but history suggests that fear-mongering is overrated.

It is debatable how much the financial or managerial state of a potential supplier should weigh on the minds of IT buyers as they consider various solutions.  Sure, on the one hand, no buyer wants to get caught out with an investment in products from a company that may not be able to support it for long.  On the other hand, how often does that actually happen?

Nortel was probably this industry’s worst-case scenario, and while there are certainly a number of disgruntled IT and networking shops out there, the fact is the Nortel products lived on and were supported in their new home(s) until such time as they were no longer required.  It is a near certainty that nobody got fired for buying Nortel even when the writing was on the wall for that company.

This past week, Alcatel-Lucent announced that Ben Verwaayen would be stepping down as CEO.  The company has a far, far larger position in the service provider infrastructure market than in the enterprise segment; still, its status in the business solutions arena is quite significant.

It’s a well-known fact that Alcatel-Lucent has been scrambling as a company since, well, since it was created.  (Indeed, Verwaayen’s departure seems to coincide with a period of stability, relatively speaking.)  The Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise unit is persistently subject to one kind of rumor or another about how it should be run and by whom.  So, it is likely that this latest episode will give competitive sales teams more opportunity to call into question the long-term viability of the Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise solutions against which they may be bidding.

By all evidence I can gather, this would be complete hogwash.  Perhaps ALU-E will be spun out; perhaps it will not.  Regardless, buyers can be reasonably sure that any investment they make will be honored and their businesses will not come crashing down as a result of an act of faith in a technology platform they happen to prefer at the time.

Certainly, due diligence is imperative.  It is important to gain assurances about delivery timelines, support mechanisms, maintenance, and future enhancements from any supplier, not just ones that happen be in the trade press.  However, good solutions that are the right fit, at the right cost, should not be ignored simply because of such reports.

What do you think?

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