Beware! WAN Optimization Lemons Ahead

LemonsIf you thought “lemons” were the stuff of used-car lots — think again. Apparently, even WAN optimization vendors will try to make a buck by selling old, end-of-life equipment to unsuspecting customers.

Take Riverbed, for example. At one recent customer engagement, the IT team wanted a branch office acceleration solution that would last for about five years. The Riverbed team reportedly proposed a very attractive, very economical solution involving the SHA-550 and SHA-1050 hardware appliances. These are the least expensive devices within Riverbed’s product line, which ostensibly made the end user very happy.

What Riverbed reportedly neglected to tell the company, though, was that the appliances are also End of Availability (EOA). As such, there would be no major or minor software updates after 1.5 years, no software support, and hardware maintenance would expire after about four years — so much for that five-year investment. To make matters worse, the IT manager was uncertain if the proposed Riverbed equipment was original or refurbished. The prospective customer naturally “hit the roof” when they found these facts out.

Unfortunately, these sorts of games happen all the time in IT.  Unscrupulous vendors undersize appliance models, forcing unsuspecting customers to upgrade their hardware just a few months later. Or sometimes they pull a bait-and-switch, quoting one model and ultimately delivering another, more expensive one.  The reality is that the economics of virtual software and commodity servers make proprietary hardware a difficult sell today in the data acceleration market. So when a hardware solution is much cheaper on paper, red flags should start going off.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions, as the old adage applies to IT: if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

Image credit: rachel_titiriga (flickr) – CC-BY-NC-ND

  • marc abel

    This article really comes across as a smear your competition type article posing as news.

    • dave greenfield

      Just saying it like it is. Learning about the various sales tactics helps all buyers be smarter when it comes to purchasing  products. Riverbed is a solid company, which makes this sort of thing all the more surprising.