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October 29, 2010


Mike Workman


Great post really. I don't have a lot to add, I think we have seen every one of these, they are all real.

From my perspective, I love the concept of having smart people getting the opportunity to understand the problems the prospect is trying to solve...but sometimes this is not what is offered. A real solution factoring in the best we can do for them and taking into account constraints like budget, space, existing equipment, network and all of that, that is fun. I will admit we are not always the best fit, but if we know that we all part friends, and maybe we go off and fix issues we have that we can fix, or, just keep our Sales folks focus away from some set of circumstances where we aren't the best so as not to waste our time, or the prospects time.

I think the truth is that all organizations are made of people with bias and different politics - it's life. So they invent a process like RFP's that tries to protect themselves, from well, themselves. This is a bit of a paradox obviously.

When you referred to my recent Blog post as a rant, I went back and read it...you're right. I think I do that a lot. I suppose that's why I love reading your Friday Rants the best - passionate displays of emotion, intellect and sarcasm. Come to think of it, perhaps that's why I like working for Larry?

Thanks Chuck,

Chuck Hollis


Thanks -- as always -- for the thoughtful and insightful comment.

How wonderful the industry would be if it was populated by more folks like you.

-- Chuck


Excellent post!

I answered most type of RFP you've describe in the course of my 30 years. Recently I see a new trend where two or less respond to RFPs. This is highly due to vendor and products focus RFPs rather trying to solve the problem like you describe. Other vendors and VARs just walked away from them if they have not influence or get in position prior the RFP. Obviously customer loose in the long run by not writing the RFP like you've suggested.

In enterprise sales this is well known that people by from people and not products. They trust very few peoples and vendors regardless the rest. Maybe why we see subjective RFPs with them. Not the case with consumer and SMB markets where many vendors are present and mainly only dollar counts.

Technology and deep IT knowledge got lost few years ago when mainframe got in trouble. No one truly understand what is going on with virtual and how to connect the dots and wires.

Maybe time to reset the clock in this industry by having better training schools focus on how to use the technology rather than focus on how to save money.

Cloud services and appliance products will solve deep expertise required in technologies partially. But who's going to select the right one without the base...



Many thanks for this insightful post, it reflects the world as I experience it too. I wrote a bit about procurement and its pains on http://bert-hubert.blogspot.com/2010/04/few-notes-on-procurement.html

I'd love to say I was exaggerating in that post..

Chuck Hollis


Your post on the topic is a hoot! My hat is off to you!

-- Chuck

Ken Steinhardt

Yes, sadly the "what problem are we trying to solve, and why?" is rarely as clear as it should be in RFPs, and I've seen more that fall into the category of "Technology-led" and "Vendor-Influenced" than any of the other categories. Way back in my younger days when I worked in IT organizations (it was called "Data Processing" back then...) none of the companies that I worked for issued RFPs - they basically had open and honest discussions with each candidate vendor, and curiously the vendors that asked the most questions and the deepest-probing questions tended to win our business. Decisions back in those days had far-reaching implications for technology that would typically be in place for many (5+) years, so you invested the time to get it right, more face to face rather than in writing - other than the price quote for the proposal. Now after a few decades on the Vendor side, my favorite RFP is one that I remember well from the late 1990's. We were responding to an RFP from a group within a large communications company that was hoping to merge storage for their previously separate Mainframe, Unix, OpenVMS, and WindowsNT environments, with some specific objectives for reducing cost and complexity. There were some very-specific O/S and version levels stated that required support as mandatory requirements. One of them was for an unusually-named mainframe O/S (in addition to MVS/ESA and VM/ESA) that I had never heard of. When meeting with the customer, I asked about this particular O/S, since it was completely unknown to me. The customers all started to laugh, then let us in on the joke - they had made up the alleged O/S as a test to see if the vendors really read and understood the details of the RFP! They later informed us that despite the fact that this "required" operating system didn't actually exist, none of the other vendors had asked about it, and none had taken any exception to fully supporting it in their RFP responses. Food for thought for all of you customers out there when you issue your next RFP - well after focusing on your business requirements and objectives. :-)

Paul P

And I quote: "Interestingly enough, I see a few of EMC's storage competitors running active marketing campaigns to try and influence what specific features and requirements shold go into a storage RFP. I don't know if this sort of approach to "wiring RFPs at scale" will be effective or not -- time will tell."

Chuck, really? It doesnt bother you that EMC does this all the time. Because of EMC's position in the market, we actually see more 'EMC' RFP's than from any other vendor.

I was prompted to reply to this as I just came across another one today. In this RFP there are several 'EMC unique' tick boxes that are unusable and irrelevant to the customer. So zero marks to EMC for actually understanding the customers environment, needs and requirements.

Chuck Hollis

Paul P:

Damn! I guess being #1 in the storage market comes with a few built-in advantages ...

-- Chuck

The comments to this entry are closed.

Chuck Hollis

  • Chuck Hollis
    SVP, Oracle Converged Infrastructure Systems

    Chuck now works for Oracle, and is now deeply embroiled in IT infrastructure.

    Previously, he was with VMware for 2 years, and EMC for 18 years before that, most of them great.

    He enjoys speaking to customer and industry audiences about a variety of technology topics, and -- of course -- enjoys blogging.

    Chuck lives in Vero Beach, FL with his wife and four dogs when he's not traveling. In his spare time, Chuck is working on his second career as an aging rock musician.

    Warning: do not ever buy him a drink when there is a piano nearby.

    Note: these are my personal views, and aren't reviewed or approved by my employer.
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