Is Your IT Vendor Selling You Snake Oil?

My father loves Western movies, so I watched a lot of them growing up. Westerns tend to have “standard” characters that are easy to recognize, like the rough outlaw with a heart of gold, or the damsel in distress. But true Western fans will recognize another staple character – the snake oil peddler with dubious credentials, selling cures for all sorts of ailments. These peddlers travel from town to town spreading confusion and parting hard working folks with their money. 

Today’s snake oil peddlers are the vendors who put the labels of “solutions” over the same old goods to meet the new needs of BYOD, Rogue IT, Big Data, and SDN. Here at the Microsoft Management Summit, I’m hearing from a lot of customers that see a lot of powerful visions across the industry, but the solutions themselves are little more than yesterday’s products with a “brand new” label, or vaporware showcasing mock-ups of products not available today.

As the Director of IT from a financial services firm that I met last evening put it, “Of course vision and product roadmaps matter to me. But I need products that solve my problems today, not a year from now.”

As I have mentioned previously, I believe Microsoft’s commitment to the Cloud OS leads to the most comprehensive and future-proof infrastructure solution. And it’s not just vision. It is real, with unique features that customers can take advantage of today. Want more?  Here are some of the demos featured in yesterday’s MMS keynote by Brad Anderson:

  • Extreme automation: Let’s say your company has a popular website that you want to expand to have a global footprint. With the Microsoft platform, you can choose to tier the application between your datacenter and Windows Azure. After the global launch, you can rest easy with the knowledge that if you get higher than expected demand, System Center 2012 will automatically determine which tier is causing a bottleneck, and initiate a workflow that in turn will spin up new VMs in Windows Azure, ready to help fulfill the increased demand without your staff having to raise a finger.
  • Bridging the gap between developers and IT: In today’s cloud enabled world, the relationship between developer and IT operations teams is extremely crucial (and often strained). With the integration between System Center 2012 SP1, SC Global Service Monitor (GSM) and TFS, IT staff can now proactively identify issues with a particular application at a remote location, often even before users in those locations realize there is a problem. They can then trace the issue, analyze the root cause at the code level, and then log a bug with detailed information and assign it to the relevant development team. All this in less than ten minutes.
  • Reducing storage costs: With the explosion of data being generated by businesses, many of our customers are seeing an astonishing growth rates in storage costs, fuelled by the need for premium storage solutions like SANs. Storage enhancements in Windows Server 2012 like Storage Spaces and SMB 3.0 mean that customers can now heavily reduce costs by achieving high-availability storage functionality using existing JBODs (just a bunch of disks). A recent ESG lab report goes into how these enhancements can help customers today.
  • Software Defined Networking: With the SDN features included in WS 2012 and SC 2012 SP1, you can achieve complete VM mobility without an expensive solution. Now, if your company acquires another company, you can move VMs from the acquired company into your datacenter without having to reconfigure the hosts, switches and routers in either datacenter. Your staff can also easily move virtual machines running a newly tested application from a development environment to your production environment with minimal reconfiguration.

To see these demos, please check out a recording of Brad’s keynote here. These demos are real, running on real code that you can deploy today. Can the infrastructure vendor you are evaluating really claim that?

If you haven’t done so already, I invite you to take Windows Server 2012, System Center 2012 SP1 and Windows Azure out for a spin.  Let me know what you find!

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