Technology solutions are like rural restaurants

(Edit note: I have received some feedback that this article may be perceived as negative. That was not my intention at all. Instead I mean this as a way of explaining choice in IT and why choice is good and necessary. Budgets, use cases, opinions, and past experiences drive our decision making and that is ok. So relax and rest assured that you are making valid technical decisions based on your due diligence.)

I was on twitter the other day and someone posed that there are so many choices in storage that they don’t know where to begin to select a solution. I thought about responding duh depends on your workload but I stopped and thought you know maybe I am approaching this wrong.

What if picking a technology is like picking a place to eat? How many of us have been in the car with our family or significant other and the question of “Where do you want to eat?” gets asked? All of us I would assume unless you are a hermit. Then the response is invariably “I don’t know what are you in the mood for?” In cities choices abound, but if that same thing happens in the burbs or the country you may not be able to just yelp it. So you think about the options in your town, you have fast food, the same old chain spots you have been too a million times, the local joints that have good food but the same menu, maybe the new spot that always has a long wait and just ok food as they work out the kinks. So what drives you to the choice?

Well it’s a mix, pressure from your SO, or maybe your mood, or how hungry you are. Each part of that compels you to make a choice, but over time if you were to analyze you probably go to the same handful of places more than anywhere else, because you get consistent quality and service. That’s why those chains and local joints are able to stay in business, and why fast food hasn’t died off, it’s also why the food service industry has one of the highest rates of failures for new owners.

What does any of this have to do with tech? Well the same way you make choices for what to eat is how you make decisions on what vendor to buy with and what tech to procure. Psychology is funny don’t you think? Most vendors also know this; brand loyalty increases customer’s willingness to buy. Just check out this study on brand loyalty effectiveness.

So for all of my bellyaching about workloads and how they drive the right choice, and for everyone’s imagination running rampant about which vendors to buy and who will be around in the next 5-10 yrs. to support it. I would postulate that the old adage that no one ever got fired for buying EMC, Cisco, or VMware is still very much true. EMC has a vast portfolio, and while I openly admit that not every part of it is as sexy as competition at least you know what you are getting.

That’s the worst sales pitch ever, but if you live in the country and only have a few choices of where to eat this makes a lot more sense. Try to tell your wife date night is at a bad restaurant and tell me I am wrong. In the end picking storage with workloads in mind and data protection requirements is still a key ingredient to success, just like agreeing with your SO on where to go for dinner