The 8 biggest IT management mistakes
By Dan Tynan
CIO | Dec 11, 2017 3:00 AM PT
IT management mistake No. 1: Vendor lock-in

It’s a form of seduction. Vendors lure you in with low prices and endless promises. But once they’ve got you in their grasp, they never let go.

“Almost every vendor that makes a product is trying to land and expand inside your environment,” says Andrew Howard, CTO at Kudelski Security. “IT managers start out with good intentions, but before they know it, the vendor is not replaceable and has significant control of IT assets and tremendous pricing leverage. I have seen several IT managers lose their jobs over this type of vendor mismanagement.”
There are some benefits to lock in, Howard acknowledges. Aside from volume discounts, getting multiple products from the same vendor should ensure smoother integration between them as well as tighter security (emphasis on should). And it means you have fewer vendors to deal with. This can be ideal for smaller organizations.

But when you decide it’s time to move on, don’t expect the vendor to help you. Howard recalls when he was working at a consulting firm, a workflow management vendor tried to keep his firm from transitioning to a different vendor by refusing to hand over its source code. That requirement, which was in the original software licensing agreement (SLA), somehow managed to evaporate in subsequent negotiations.

Going to the cloud doesn’t make it any easier, he adds.

“A lot of our partners are having the same kind of problems with platform-as-a-service providers,” he says. “Once you’re invested with one, it’s hard to transition that infrastructure to a competitor.”

For that reason, Howard says he knows many CIOs who are hedging their bets by partnering with multiple cloud providers and developing strong technology management practices. He adds that IT managers need to work more closely with procurement to avoid becoming too dependent on any single vendor.

“I personally believe in diversification of technology,” he says. “And the cheapest option is often not to your favor. Sometimes the short-term pain may benefit you in the long run.”