Let us into your businesses, network vendors plead

TORONTO – A group of IT vendors advocate a closer working relationship between them and their customers – with channel partners as intermediaries – as a means to combat the ever growing complexity behind technology deployments.

Representatives from Avaya Canada, Bell Canada’s security solutions division, Shaw Communications Inc. and Nortel Networks spoke Tuesday morning at a panel called “What every enterprise needs to know about this industry.” The panel was one of a series of presentations at the Enterprise Networks 2006 conference.

“One of the best things that can be done is let us into your business to understand your business needs,” said Ernest Eisentraut, director of national solution sales and engineering at Avaya Canada.

“Customers are bewildered by some of the technology, so they need to ‘de-risk’ their projects,” said Tom Moss, vice-president of technology at Bell Security Solutions. He also encouraged channel players like systems integrators to maximize their understanding of vendor technology in order to decrease this sense of client bewilderment.

“Get the partner involved early in the planning,” he said.

But its important that the customer recognize that they are ultimately the ones in charge. Too often, IT contracts are chosen based on the lowest bid rather than a real understanding of the customer’s needs, said Moss, resulting in a finished project that comes in below the customer’s expectations.

“Maybe the lowest price isn’t the way to go,” he said.

“At the end of the day, the customer owns the vendors,” said Mike Hall, senior director of operations at Shaw.

“One of the things I’ll never understand is the ‘mysterious cloud’ of the service provider. Customers should understand what they need in order to dispel this cloud, added Hall. “And when you’re comparing quotes, make sure it’s an apple to an apple.”

Complexity in IT has grow commensurately with an expanding definition around what it means to deploy ‘robust’ technology, said Tony Rybczynski, director of enterprise at Nortel Networks. At one time, a ‘robust’ network meant one that was simply available, but has since come to mean reliable applications that run in a secure environment and can interoperate with one another directly or through a layer of middleware.

As such, Nortel is “hell-bent on becoming more of a services and software company,” said Rybczynski, and redefining itself as more than just a networking architecture firm in the eyes of its customers, he said. Nortel’s recent agreement with Microsoft is an example of this, he added.

Regardless of whom they select to deploy technology, customers need to take a key interest in their own rollouts, said Moss, adding that the process of setting up a technology infrastructure can be almost as valuable as the end result. “You don’t want someone else to walk away with all of the knowledge.”

Moss said the best approach is to break a rollout down into manageable pieces in co-operation with the partner or vendor. “By breaking it down with us, we can chunk the project up.”

The Enterprise Networks 2006 conference ends Wednesday afternoon.

Comment: info@itbusiness.ca

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