Has the supermarket mentality affected IT or are vendors more concerned about giving value for money for customers?

While no-one’s expecting to see Cisco to come out with “buy a router and get one free2 offer” or Microsoft to introduce a loyalty card, there’s little doubt that vendors are becoming more aware that customers aren’t bottomless pits of cash and are beginning to more aware of marketing themselves for effectively. 

There’s certainly been a  change in the way that vendors are presenting the offers. The initiative by NetApp in providing a £1 million’s worth of storage is an eye-catching one - the sort of imaginative approach that will gladden the heart of any CFO looking at ways to cut IT costs. And the NetApp proposal has a serious purpose too - to demonstrate the level of cost savings that could be made by an enterprise going down the virtualisation route.  NetApp claims 50 percent and the competition is a great idea to demonstrate the veracity of such claims.

NetApp is not alone in making grand gestures:  Salesforce has launched a CRM application for small businesses at just £5 a month;  IBM is launching a cloud service for small businesses with a special launch price next month  while open-source BI provider Pentaho has offered potential customers a financial incentive to switch. And these are just some of the initiatives that Techworld has reported on in the last month  - there have been plenty of other examples of vendors seizing the initiative when it comes to promoting their wares.

It’s not just the recession of course. There have been two other factors driving this sea change: the onset of virtualisation and the rise of open source. Virtualisation, with its promise of consolidating costs, is a natural for these types of vendor offerings. While open source software has offered a genuine option to customers fed up with being gauged on price.

All credit to the vendors to responding to the circumstances and looking for ways to attract new customers and provide value.  Who knows what will be next?  Supermarket Sweep with a chance to win storage arrays? Guess the Trojan and win a year’s subscription to anti-virus?  An X Factor style shoot-off as companies compete to win the top prize?