RECENTLY, I accompanied one of my colleagues on a trip to visit two companies competing to provide back-end services for InfoWorld. One of the companies has been doing business with InfoWorld for several years, and the other wants to win that business. I was brought along to do some quick, technical due-diligence on each. For the purposes of this discussion, I'll call our current vendor Company A and the vendor wanting our business Company B.
Doing a thorough "deep dive" analysis of the technology at a partner company in a few hours is difficult, so it was important to look for small details that provide insight into the larger picture. At Company A, I was struck by one detail in particular: While they had made systems choices that provided stability for their environment, they had taken an expensive "big iron" approach -- a few big boxes running a proprietary operating system on a proprietary architecture. Company B was moving decidedly in the other direction -- migrating to clusters of inexpensive, Intel-based Linux servers to perform the same tasks as Company A. From a technical and business standpoint, I was already leaning toward Company B.
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