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Gartner: Suppliers try new lock-in tricks

IT managers are unconsciously falling prey to a new form of supplier lock-in whereby control of IT infrastructure through outsourced management of non-core IT functions is wrested away from the business under the guise of 'on-demand' computing services, a senior Gartner analyst has warned.

Gartner vice president Betsy Burton said that as IT suppliers move from a product-based model to a services delivery model, they are looking to take charge of more parts of businesses' IT environment.

With enterprises under continuing pressure to slash operating costs and alleviate the resulting pressure on staff, buyers of software, hardware and networking inadvertently become submissive to suppliers when handing them responsibility for their non-core IT functions.

Burton challenged whether offerings such as virtualisation, utility, autonomic, on-demand, and grid computing add up to increased "customer choice" or merely new forms of control - naming IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, SAP and Siebel Systems as the most likely predators to come after non-critical corporate IT through such services.

She warned that organisations must understand the traps of becoming dependent on a supplier, saying business specialists need to carefully evaluate the cost and benefit of reliance.

"Take advantage of competition or partnerships to negotiate better deals, and ensure there is shared risk in service-based engagements." Burton advised.

Helen Han writes for ComputerWorld Today


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