Because running a data center is expensive, you need to get the most value for every dollar you spend for hardware, software and for the people who manage your infrastructure and applications. You could be spending $5,000 to $10,000 per MIPS, and software is generally a large expense. Using the following criteria, evaluate your software vendors and determine how committed they are to supporting you and responding to your data center’s needs and initiatives:
Commitment to our infrastructure: Because you’re reading this publication, it’s safe to assume you have a mainframe. But mainframes don’t live in isolation; they’re connected to a variety of distributed systems platforms, storage devices, and networks. Be sure your software vendors can support your applications that connect with the mainframe, regardless of which additional environments they touch. For example, be sure your software vendor supports new versions of database management systems and operating systems.
You know that information technology brings value to your overall organization, but can you measure how it affects business processes and services? Choose a software vendor that can tie information technology to the business—across all of the platforms you own. When data center personnel and business owners have a common goal, balancing the needs of each group becomes much easier.
Will your vendor remain viable for the long run? Vendors with a large, diverse portfolio of products are more likely to weather economic storms than vendors with just niche products. And vendors that sell software solely on the basis of low cost may price themselves right out of business before long.
Commitment to saving money, resources, and time: You know that the total cost of ownership for software is more than just the price tag. You need to balance the number of people it will take to manage the software and what resources it requires with the return on investment that the software provides. For example, a product that helps you find inefficient SQL statements requires some amount of overhead, but it can also show you how to reduce processing time for an application by 50 percent or more.
Savvy software vendors continually work to ensure that the software itself doesn’t use all the resources in your system; instead, the software should help you reduce resources. After all, why buy software if it doesn’t give you something in return such as lower overhead, higher availability, reduced risk, or improved productivity?
Personnel are one of the highest costs in the data center. It makes sense to invest in software that can help people be more productive. It’s much less expensive for a systems programmer to monitor and manage three operating systems from a single console than it is for three systems programmers to each monitor and manage one operating system.
Availability isn’t a new requirement, but it’s still vital. Outages cost money through lost business and possibly financial penalties. Your software vendor should be able to provide solutions that help you get the availability you need.
Commitment to you: In a perfect IT world, no job or software would ever fail. But we live in the real world, and failures happen. How does your software vendor support your staff when things break down? Your staff needs to be able to reach expert help immediately when a failure occurs. In addition, the vendor should be able to answer not only questions about the software itself but also provide guidance on other factors that could have caused the problem—all as part of your maintenance dollars. You shouldn’t need to pay a services bill for help you get during a crisis.
Before investing in new software or renewing current licenses, ensure your vendor is committed to your infrastructure, to saving you money, and, most important, to you.