Firstly, I’m NOT talking about converged infrastructure here.

Single-stacking here refers to acquiring compute, network, storage infrastructure (and sometimes hypervisors too) from a single vendor regardless of market leadership. This type of decision is often seen in major turnkey projects where IT hardware is “bundled lock-stock-and-barrel” as part of the scope. Very often, the “bundling” part of the deal is appealing to many C-level or business decision makers. Hey, it’s free right? Not quite.

Here’s Mike’s Take on the risks and costs of single-stacking your hardware decisions.

Why Be Cautious About Single-Stacking. 

  1. Products given “free” have less value in the market to begin with, and low acceptance. ie. low investment, development into the product. And most importantly, lack of skills to support. Look, why would any capitalist business give something valuable away for free? Often times, the freebie results in high costs later.
  2. Minimal-revenue or diminishing-revenue products have shelf-life uncertainties. Much higher chances of disappearing and being dropped from roadmap. What then? Look around and you will find plenty of oldies and wannabes in this category. 
  3. A “free” single-stack engagement will blind-sight clients from infrastructure investments and due diligence – there is going to be less scrutiny, less commitment, less validation from the clients end. This can easily result in uncontrolled infrastructure growth and associated licensing growth.
  4. Some vendors may say “the application needs my hardware” – this means there is proprietary lock-ins in the hardware. This goes against the open collaborative tide, and a sure lock-out of options for the client.
  5. The application is only tested on my hardware” – this means the software itself is a dead lock-in. Full control and jurisdiction about the software and hardware spend is then with the vendor. This is against the software development trends today that promote openness so that clients has choice. It will be wise to reconsider the software as well.
  6. Another common approach by such vendors is custom-building every function just for you! At face value, it takes away all worries and effort about ensuring the right functions and features are available to address your unique situation. What clients often don’t consider is the maintenance of custom-built systems. Who’s keeping track of the customization? Who’s going to maintain them later? This is why matured productization of technology and market leadership is key in IT infrastructure decisions.

Anti-stacking Trends

Here are some key technology trends that are propagating an open technology platform.

Horizontal Infrastructure Strategy

Benefits of A Horizontal Infrastructure Strategy

  1. A horizontal infrastructure strategy leverages the best-in-class, leadership layers for the most critical systems. Leverage the openness and commitment to interoperability of the most matured platforms. Don’t leave your mission to the chance (and risks) of freeware.
  2. Leverage the maturity of widely-known infrastructure matrices – performance, availability, interoperability, proven architectures, strong legacy of development culture.
  3. Leverage a consumer’s power of check-and-balance between vendors. Build “procurement choice” as part of the IT strategy.
  4. Leverage the most matured productization culture in infrastructure because very often, the products are results of agile development cycles that ensure new capabilities and features are built in. These allow clients to take advantage of cloud, big data, mobility and optimization trends.