Survey: Enterprises, Storage Vendors Not on Same Page

Storage vendors are apparently pushing their own agendas and not listening to customers' true business needs, a report says.

An independent survey of about 200 IT decision makers reported a wide gap between what data storage customers require and what storage vendors are prepared to offer them.

The survey, released Sept. 11 and commissioned by data security management software maker Bocada of Bellevue, Wash., interviewed executives at enterprises employing more than 500 people.

The survey revealed that storage vendors consistently fail to demonstrate an understanding of their customers business issues and often try to hard sell complex solutions with hidden costs routinely misaligned to stated business objectives.

The blind survey was designed to determine how well storage vendors understand and meet the business objectives and needs of storage managers and buyers.

"The storage industry is a very competitive market and as a result customers can get caught in the crossfire," said Brad ONeill, senior analyst at Taneja Group.

"Vendors, however, need to recognize that storage is a major cost center for IT, and they need to make recommendations that support the business objectives of their customers."

The survey revealed significant flaws in the due diligence and sales processes and require a call to action for all storage vendors to improve their practices to better serve their customers, said Bocada President and CEO Drake Pruitt.

"Storage vendors are not showing enough knowledge of what their customers actually need," Pruitt told eWEEK. "Sales people are basically telling customers: Heres my company, buy my corporate mentality. Vendors have got to get down deeper and focus on business requirements."

The survey results indicated that 45 percent of respondents believe their storage vendor or vendors dont do an adequate job of understanding or learning about their organizations business objectives.

This lack of understanding results in the vendors inability to make the right technical recommendations for their customers storage environments, respondents said.

Similarly, half of respondents said their storage vendor should do a better job listening to their requirements before making recommendations.

Wild claims and chest-beating

"Every purchase seems to be another WWF Smackdown, complete with posturing [on both sides], wild claims and chest-beating," said one respondent.

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Others cited "too many empty promises" and "too many companies trying to claim they have the best solutions" only later to "fall way short of my expectations."

Ironically, the level of dissatisfaction comes at a time when the need for effective storage solutions is greater than ever, with 73 percent of respondents reporting that, "end-users at my organization are demanding access to more information," and 81 percent indicating that they would prefer to "spend more time interpreting information, rather than hunting for it."

The fact that enterprise storage customers arent getting the benefit of even a rudimentary understanding of their business issues at a time when demand for storage is skyrocketing is alarming, Pruitt said.

The lack of qualitative research, paired with the absence of a method to assess "apples-to-apples" claims, places the burden of objective evaluation upon potential customers, results show.

Next Page: Vendors are not seeing the big picture

Chris Preimesberger

Chris Preimesberger

Chris Preimesberger is Editor of Features & Analysis at eWEEK, responsible in part for the publication's coverage areas. In his 10 years and more than 3,500 stories at eWEEK, he has distinguished...