Many customers end up tolerating wrong choices, costs and surprises because they did not spend time and effort in something straightforward and critical: asking the right questions before selecting an automation vendor.
If only running IT could be like a magic show! Alas, efficiencies and edge do not pop up like a magician’s ribbons here. Juggling different balls, especially when so many of these are in contrast to each other – like speed, security, comprehensiveness and customization – it was never easy and will never be.
However, there is some hope if one knows the spell of right questions. Yes, well thought of, well-timed and well-asked questions make all the difference between an automation vendor that is a partner and one that is a burden you carry every year.
What are these questions? And why do they matter so much while picking an automation tool?
Let’s bring in the spot-light.
Any automation framework becomes sustainable, long-term and advantageous only when the right vendor supports it. You do not have to look for the brochures but for the outcomes.
Start by listing down your own automation goals and then asking the right questions. Soon enough, you would be beaming with joy over an automation answer that not only serves compliance but also bolsters competitiveness – in every way possible.
Here is what you should be looking for in a vendor.
1. Ease of doing business
There are many ways to ascertain this:
- Does this vendor accommodate customizations for specific use-cases and for your specific business needs? If yes, how quickly?
- How readily-approachable are the team-members for any queries you might have, now or later?
- And most importantly- Do they treat you with respect? Speak your language? Understand your core values? And your unique challenges?
The team should also be armed with enough experience, maturity, strengths and adequate clearances needed to support your industry. It should be equipped with a roadmap that aligns with your organization’s priorities instead of being askew or isolated.
These are important questions. Start looking out for these areas during the initial set of discussions or POC stage.
Once you have established a vendor’s vision-symmetry and ease-aspects, you would now have to ascertain if the vendor wields the necessary level, and time-stamp, of expertise.
Try to find:
- Do you find yourself affirming to, or contradicting with, the majority of the vendor team’s recommendations?
- Do you think the vendor is offering a comprehensive solution or is it merely solving a piece of the problem?
- Is the vendor inclined towards the future? Are the product and the architecture elements capable of supporting your future expansion plans?
3. Flexible pricing
Soon the discussions would boil down to pricing. And pricing should not be dictated by the vendor. If you are feeling arm-twisted, gas-lighted or manipulated in any way, run for the hills. No matter how sturdy, well-known or huge a vendor is in the market, unless the pricing makes sense to you, your goals and pockets – it would never be a solution – just one more problem-in-the-closet.
Ensure that pricing models are both flexible and transparent. An ideal model is never vague and always helps to evaluate your automation ROI effectively. It gives you a reasonable degree of visibility too – you can see how your cost-bill increases as the scale of business and workloads grow. This quiz should be quick and close-ended. Any time you hear a ‘No’, step back. Every time, you hear a confident ‘yes’, proceed to the next question.
- Is the proposed model of pricing simple or complicated to understand? Would it grow exponentially when you grow?
- How expensive are the professional services, if any, being suggested or considered?
- Is it easy to get started and prove the value without any heavy initial investments?
- What is the Pay Back Period?
Is the vendor, directly or indirectly, insisting upon you to buy ancillary services? Do you understand why you have to pay for each SKU? If it’s not clear, put the discussion back on the negotiation-table before you sign on the dotted lines.
4. What others say – not what the vendor says
Yes, testimonials and references are an oft-ignored but very significant part of the assessment process. The credibility of any vendor can be easily, and summarily, determined by what its customers and partners say about it. Look for what the large enterprises or peer-review websites say as they cannot be easily manipulated into glossy testimonials. Pay attention to the details – what features of the product have been praised. Dive deep by following up with the references over a quick interaction.
5. Post-Sales Support
Your business is dynamic. Automation requirements are bound to change, and without alerts, over time. You will constantly need to fine-tune the automation platform you embrace to suit your rapidly-changing business needs. Thus, a quick and reliable after-sales support assurance is essential to help you stay on the top of your automation goals.
- What kind of professional services does the company offer? The pricing, team-count, location and fine-print too!
- How quickly would bugs/defects be fixed?
- How are customizations accommodated in a post-sales scenario?
- What is the SLA for resolving issues?
- Does the vendor offer any training? How frequently? At a cost?
- How well-rounded is the vendor’s product documentation?
These areas will help you fill any holes in a pre-emptive and strong way so that once the solution is plugged in, it delivers only the impact and edge your enterprise wanted all the time. No nasty potholes or deer-in-the-headlights!
Anuta Networks - Advantages
It is both a moment of pride and self-introspection when Anuta Networks, addresses all the questions listed above with a well-earned confidence. What started out as an orchestration platform has, over the years, transformed into a comprehensive closed-loop automation framework that seamlessly encompasses assurance, analytics, and end-to-end orchestration. The ATOM platform supports thousands of devices across 45+ vendors and has been delivering answers to important questions. In the form of some hard-to-miss advantages:
1. Continuous Innovation – ATOM Platform has been kept completely open. You can easily use ATOM Rest APIs to create, model and execute operations within ATOM. You can also use ATOM SDKs to extend the functionality
2. OPEX Savings – Most automation solutions claim to reduce OPEX, but Anuta Networks truly realizes it. Our bleeding-edge technologies make ATOM horizontally-scalable, feature-rich, trouble-shoot ready and sharp enough for human errors, outages and inconsistencies that may not be comprehended by other solutions.
3. Faster Time-to-market – Our lean, and customer-focused, roadmap and processes help close customer requests swiftly and completely. Any device driver-extension or new device driver-creation will not take more than 2 to 6 weeks. With our graphical workflow, you can define policies quickly and introduce self-service to your network operators. This eliminates some inefficient hand-offs between multiple teams (such as network team, security team, infra team, etc.). This accomplishes rapid application deployment in its truest sense.
4. A Simple Pricing Model -ATOM has a per-device subscription license model that can be customized based on the features that you need. The flexible subscription pricing model helps you to start small and grow big.
5. Proven Capabilities – The ATOM platform from Anuta Networks has been deployed with exemplary outcomes in many large enterprises. Check out these testimonials to know how Anuta Networks helped customers reach their automation goals – without wrinkles and with lasting impact.
In short, ATOM delights you with the answers you are looking for in an ideal vendor. It understands your needs, it aligns with your goals, it is transparent and customer-oriented in pricing, it has evidence of its superlative possibilities – and above all, it encourages you to ask more questions. Because that’s how it keeps getting better. And better.
Not magically. But logically.