It seems fashionable these days to use the phrase “single throat to choke” with regard to vendors, and integrated solutions. Sadly, this seems to be used as a selling point by the big guys who are interested in bundling their offerings together. Other than IT guys who like to repeat buzzwords to make themselves feel important, this phrase is rarely used in mainstream business. The reason is clear.
As a customer, I can tell you that I don’t want a throat to choke. Today’s successful business doesn’t need a throat. What it needs is a partner. Don’t believe me? Take a look at BMW. For those who have had the pleasure of touring the plant in South Carolina, there is one thing that stands out beyond the fascinating machinery, and beautiful plant. What stands out is the way that BMW partners with their suppliers.
At each manufacturing station, there’s also a loading dock door. Vendors back their trucks right up to the proper door with their part, and unload just enough to keep the line going until the next truck arrives. What this means is that BMW’s suppliers aren’t “throats to choke”, but partners. These partners enable BMW to manufacture more efficiently, cutting out non-value add processes like moving parts around giant warehouses.
If one of their partners fails to deliver, the entire plant can grind to an abrupt halt. And when this happens, BMW might want to choke a throat, but in reality, the vendor is choking their own throat. Just like SLA’s in our world, there are heavy fines for these kinds of mishaps in that world. The end result is the vendor has a vested, ongoing interest in satisfying the customer. When things go wrong, both of them take a hit, because they are partners.
We’re not manufacturing in IT, but we are delivering a product to a customer. The more partners we have, the better. Do we really care that we can call one phone number for a storage, network, hardware, or virtualization platform problem? I would submit to you that we do not. We care more that our partners can listen, and deliver what we need to be successful. We want it delivered on time, and we want it to enhance our company, and our profitability.
While I see merit in the vBlock, SMT, and other integrated solutions, I believe the “throat to choke” argument cheapens these offerings. The vendors who are able to pitch the strengths of their products, and how they can strengthen our environments, will win out over those who focus on choking people. The argument seems to me to be more of the fear, uncertainty, and doubt that needs to disappear from the industry in order for it to advance.
Brandon Riley is a new blogger here at Virtual Insanity as this is his second post. He is currently working as a Sr. Distributed Systems Engineer with The Clearing House.