What happens when you assume your customers will stick around forever?

Guest post by Adam Mendoza

It’s been said that once you get a hold of a good thing, you never let it go. That may be true in relationships or perhaps your favorite ice cream flavor, but it certainly isn’t true about technology, especially virtualization technology. The most basic premise (and promise!) of virtualization is cost reduction and control; this is the fundamental reason that customers adopted hypervisors and continue to virtualize workloads of all kinds. So if you “mess” with that premise, then you are in for a rude awakening.

So what happened – well, a couple of things! (hint, someone “messed” with the premise.) A vendor decided that they were “leaving money on the table” with their current licensing practices and made some fundamental changes. Granted, more and more capability was being provided, and yes, the change happened months ago, but something interesting happened earlier this year – a viable alternative to the vendor’s primary technology was released, Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization (RHEV) v3.0 I know, all old news.

But here’s something also funny about customers, they don’t drop everything they’re doing to adopt the latest technology on “day 0”; it takes a while to determine stability, feature and functionality applicability, and getting a general comfort level. The thing is, customers are opening their eyes to the possibility that maybe the pricing changes are not something they are locked into!

Why now? Not entirely sure but very recently, in a forum that included 14 of NetApp’s top customers, four of them, that’s 29%, indicated that they are completely moving off of their current vendor and adopting RHEV.

Why? Because it’s too costly to stay with their current situation. And why is it costly? Because virtualization is the fundamental way these customers deploy their applications. They have made the move, moved their Tier 1 applications, and now are faced with an environment that used to promise a very good ROI – but at the scale they are virtualizing, the cost needle is starting to move in the wrong direction.

Again, customers do not necessarily move at blinding speed but if macroeconomics has taught us one thing, cutting costs becomes the number one motivator to accelerate movement in the data center.

I think when you assume your customers will stick around forever, you forget that someone else is always there to help them consider alternative solutions – just saying.

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