Due to their size, investments in a company’s IT infrastructure are always designed for long periods of time. At the same time, this is a particularly short-lived area:
- Innovations can make a change in technology seem appealing if their use promises long-term added value.
- Hardware has a limited lifespan. In the storage sector, for example, it is assumed that storage media and technologies need to be renewed every 5 to 7 years.
- Software may be replaced by a new generation and not maintained further.
So when it comes to IT purchases, users should pay attention to being able to use the individual components for as long as possible. In both the hardware and software sectors, the keyword “vendor independence” is crucial.
The aim is to avoid vendor lock-in, i.e. an exclusive binding to a single manufacturer.
- Vendor lock-in occurs, for example, when special hardware can only be operated with the manufacturer’s own software.
- The use of proprietary interfaces, protocols, formats, etc. also creates a dependency on the products of a particular manufacturer.
There are undoubted advantages to obtaining an overall solution “from a single source”. Administration can thus be greatly simplified. Nevertheless, in many cases it can become problematic if the technologies of one manufacturer are not compatible with the products of other manufacturers:
- For example, if the solution no longer meets the company’s own requirements and no suitable supplement is available from the same manufacturer.
- The vendor may discontinue support for older product lines or certain forms of support and then force a switch to another product from their house or another form of contract.
In such cases, switching to another vendor is made more difficult because it requires additional time and staff resources and incurs additional costs. If, for example, obsolete hardware is due for replacement, the hurdle of also switching manufacturers is correspondingly high if this would involve a comprehensive system changeover. A competitor’s solution may be less expensive, but the additional effort involved makes switching uneconomical.
Flexibility through standardization
If you want to avoid such vendor lock-in, you should make sure that formats, interfaces, protocols, etc. comply with the usual industry standards. This ensures compatibility between products from different manufacturers.
This standardization is the key to flexibility, vendor independence and investment protection: It enables individual components of the infrastructure to be replaced, while other existing components can continue to be used – be it hardware or software.
The Independent Software Vendor (ISV)
The Independent Software Vendor develops standardized software solutions independently of the providers of widely used operating systems and other platforms. By using standardized interfaces, formats, etc., the applications remain independent of manufacturers and hardware. In most cases, these ISVs can have their solutions certified by the manufacturers of these platforms and thus confirm compatibility.
With regard to your storage infrastructure and the corresponding investments, you can benefit, for example, from an independent and standardized software solution for storage management:
- When introducing the software, you can continue to use existing hardware and integrate it into the infrastructure with the software via standard interfaces. This means that your investment in existing hardware is protected even if you restructure your storage architecture.
- If you need to replace hardware components, you are not limited to one manufacturer and you can flexibly select the hardware from a wider range and according to your individual requirements.
When it comes to high investments in the IT area, you should rely on standardized solutions. This allows you to maintain full flexibility when individual components need to be replaced. Existing hardware and software can continue to be used, and existing investments are protected accordingly.