As we discussed last time, internal and external integration between engineers, products, and customers has never been more important. Unfortunately, building those connections has never been more difficult or more complex. Today, we want to explore the integration of new technology into customer environments.
Many companies have internal requirements that prevent them from simply adding any cool new piece of hardware or software to their infrastructure. Most often it must go through an arduous vetting process that can include Proofs of Concept (POCs) and internal testing by their own IT staff. This then allows them, after a successful test, to qualify the equipment and make it part of their policies and standards.
As customers adopt new technology, there will always be tension between meeting their existing standards and the capabilities of new product. After all, it’s unlikely that a new technology will seamlessly fit into existing workflows, and even less likely that it will have all the traditional features and functions. Many customers, for example, have a policy of “no single point of failure” for any component in their environment. While Data Domain improved the reliability of their backup environment compared to tape, it did not fit their HA standards. Here’s where integration becomes so critical. In some cases, the customers found other ways to meet their availability requirements. In others, the customers adjusted their standards. In still others, EMC deployed non-Data Domain storage solutions. Regardless, integration of a new technology required effort to change.
Meanwhile, new vendors must balance their vision with making it easier for customers to embrace their technology. When companies like EMC build or buy new products or as startups build their products, that balance is usually seen as contention between Product Managers (the now) and Engineering (the vision). For years, the Data Domain team struggled to understand why the field kept asking for High Availability. After all, they were so much more reliable than tape! Meanwhile, there were so many other things to do – larger systems, better replication, new protocols, etc. The Product Managers just didn’t “get it”. Only after sitting with customers and leading technical salespeople did they truly comprehend the importance of HA. Integration depends on relationships and connection.
In other words, integrating new technology is not about the new technology. It’s about the people and process changes to use that technology.
Stay tuned for our next installment – integration when doing a “simple” technology refresh. (Preview – it’s never that simple).
Steven Weller @