Why Simplicity Rules When It Comes to Buying Software
By Andrew Martin, APJ Managing Director at Zerto
I was speaking to the managing director from a Zerto system integrator (SI) partner last week, and he said something to me that I thought was a joke, but it turned out he was being completely serious.
We were discussing the Zerto product roadmap and looking at his own requests for what he would like to see in future versions of Zerto’s Virtual Replication (ZVR). His request was for us to make the GUI a bit more complicated, “it’s just too easy to use right now” he said.
I clarified his comment by asking; “Do you mean that we make our product so easy to use that it’s limiting his chances of professional services revenue?” No, that wasn’t it.
“Your product is doing some incredibly complex things while protecting business critical applications. However, when people see your GUI and how simple everything is, they find it hard to believe that the product really does everything we claim. In effect, they look at the demo and think it can’t be that easy and it must be too good to be true,” he explained.
As IT infrastructures become more complex and the demand on IT continues to grow — expected to ‘be on’ 24/7 — it’s surely better for companies to make software easier to use and not harder. Indeed, we are seeing a trend of simplifying complexity across the industry and it is resonating with both customers and partners. Cloud providers remove the need for IT managers to build servers and provision storage. By hiding the underlying technology, IT professionals can manage by SLA. They don’t need to understand how the technology works.
At Zerto we see this manifest in many ways, but one of my favourite examples is with application support. I spent years in some of the most successful backup software companies including Arcserve, Veritas and Bakbone. Providing application support was a key part of those company’s value propositions. They all enabled IT managers to protect applications without having to shut them down (not backup) and guaranteed a consistent recovery in the event it was needed.
All good so far, but for every application a specific chargeable application agent was required. Each agent had its own supported version list. When someone asked “Can you support backup for Oracle?”, a whole list of questions follow. “For which OS?” “What version of Oracle?” “Are you using RMAN?” “Is Oracle running on a Raw Disk partition?” The list went on.
Application backup added complexity into the process. At Zerto, the question is pretty simple. “Does the application run in the hypervisor?” If it does, ZVR will replicate it in a live state and will guarantee a consistent application recovery.
I must admit that I too have experienced the same ‘disbelief’ as that our SI business partner explained above. “So easy?” “No extra licensing or cost?” “Are you sure it really works?” The simple answer to these questions is an emphatic yes!
The role of IT professionals is changing with the transformation in IT that we’re seeing more generally. Knowing how to configure and integrate IT systems is becoming far less important than delivering results. For professionals whose job has always been to ‘know the technology,’ it can be difficult to simply ‘let go’. But doing so is important as focus switches to what needs to be achieved rather than how to achieve it.
New vendors coming into the market provide solutions more powerful than in the past, yet are much simpler to manage with the complexity hidden away. For IT professionals, it means taking a new approach to selecting technology. Simplicity should no longer be something to raise doubt. In a world where delivering service level agreements is more important than managing the infrastructure, simplicity should become an absolute must for your technology choices.