This is my second re-write of this quick post discussing the pros and cons of a tech showdown (i.e., pitting two products head-to-head in a trial demo duel). In my first edition, I put together a big list with very politically correct pros and cons. And then I tossed it. Instead, I am just going to really speak my mind and shorten it a bit. So here goes. Pulling no punches this time…
1) Assuming you have two or more very high-end solutions to choose from, are truly undecided, and are planning to purchase one of them, then by all means get those vendors in there an make them show them your stuff. But if for some reason you can eliminate one of them early, try to do so. A showdown should be a final tie breaker, not the first thing you try.
2) Try to avoid a showdown (for political reasons) if you are pretty sure you know what you want already. Do some background checks on the product. With the information available on the Internet today, a bad product can’t hide. Then, if everything checks out, settle with your first choice and purchase it. Obviously, make sure you can return it if for some reason it does not live up to expectations.
3) If you are doing a showdown because you have tech time and no capital budget right now, then please have your techs do something else with their time.
Showdowns drive up product costs for everybody: the vendor, yourself, and future buyers in the industry. Yes they are a valid tool and necessary in many situations, but please use some discretion. The time, money, and resources saved by foregoing an uneeded showdown will help the tide come in and raise all ships.