Wireless: Vendors, Partners and You

Note: This is a post derived from one of my emails to the Educause wireless lan mailing list related to issues around certain versions of code and receiving different recommendations from the BU, TAC and Partners.


One of the things as a partner I try to do is educate customers on is “who is recommending what, and why.”

My experience has been that the BUs are trying to drive feature adoption, sell APs and controllers.  That’s why they exist, so don’t fault them for it.  They tend to recommend new APs, new versions of code and new features.  Why?  Because they are in the business of selling, and adoption of new features sells equipment.

TAC is all about which code results in defects are going to generate the least amount of tickets, and hopefully that means more stability.  They don’t want you to keep calling, because calling for support is generally because something negative is happening.

As a partner I try to ride the line.  I tend to determine a customer’s appetite for risk, longevity of equipment they require, their market and their staff capability. This puts them into 3 buckets: Proven Technology only, Moderate, and bleeding edge.  My reputation with my customers suffer if I recommend something and it doesn’t work well, so I tend to be more conservative.  Bleeding edge gets you further in a lifecycle if equipment, but you better be prepared to deal with some bugs in the short term.

And I sit down and talk with them about why I feel they should be buying and operating in the bucket that makes sense for them.  Ultimately they make the buying decision.  Sometimes things bite me, it happens.  But it happens less and less over time.

As an example, I was asked to quote access points for a hospital.  I sent over a quote for an 11ac wave1 access point.  The AM from the manufacturer questioned me on why I wasn’t recommending their wave2 product line.  My answer was “In healthcare, I haven’t seen the stability I feel comfortable putting into an environment that may have lives depending on it.  I don’t feel comfortable recommending this product to this customer.”

I got tattled on to the BU, and the representative said “We have no issues recommending this AP for healthcare environments.”  Unfortunately, I did.  My recommendation for that customer stands.

For those of you who are feeling the pain of buggy code, you may be listening to the wrong folks, buying outside the bucket of risk that fits your org, or the person helping you with that decision is looking at things in a way that doesn’t align with your business or your point of view.

Having the relationship with the manufactures BU and sales teams are important.  Knowing how to work with Tac and having a trusted partner are also important.  And ultimately you, the customer gets to make that decision on where and how you go. 

Note: These are my opinions.  Not the views of my Employer or the manufacturers we represent.

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