Best of Breed

Working for a large company, and having done so for most of my life, I've noticed that the quest of any organization's IT group is to find the magic suite of products that give you a "single pane of glass". Usually that means several products bundled together, and managed via one centralized interface.

So, if you want to insure everyone's getting anti-virus, but also full disk encryption, you'd buy a suite from a single vendor that would bundle those both and allow you to manage the entire organization (supposedly) from one unified portal or dashboard.

You can do that with desktop tools and utilities, server management, and even network routers and switches. And, it sounds really good on paper, doesn't it? One place to get all your IT asset management and maintenance done, sure, it sounds like the Promised Land.

The reality, however, is very, very different. While it's true you can manage multiple components of an overall solution via one central hub, the products that are bundled in the suite aren't usually very good. This is often the result of a technology company that offers multiple pieces of software trying to be too many things at once.

If you purchase a bundle of anti-virus and disk encryption from a company that typically specializes in anti-virus, the disk encryption portion of the suite will likely lack in many features. And yes, an anti-virus company that also wants to offer full disk encryption as part of a security suite has probably acquired an existing full disk encryption company so they can bundle the two (or often more products) together.

But, the signature disk encryption product of the company that used to specialize in only disk encryption will have to be shoehorned (integrated not very smoothly) into the larger suite. So what was once a fantastic product on it's own is now not as useful because for it to be part of a bundle, certain features may have to be sacrificed.

And yet, products that "work together" in a single ecosystem usually comes with so many compromises, you'd only be getting a fraction of what you really need by obtaining individual products from different companies that meet your specific requirements.

However, when you string independent products together, it adds complexity to the infrastructure you're trying to manage efficiently. But, are you really?

If you use the best of breed of each component you need to help manage and maintain your IT infrastructure, are you creating complexity, or actually saving money? When you look at a suite of products that only half-meet your needs, you'll end up having to acquire yet another product that fills in those gaps. So, in essence two products to completely cover one component.

In my own business ventures, I use the best tool for the job, regardless of "ecosystem" it may otherwise belong to. I'll use a different email provider than I do for cloud storage. A different note-taking system than the one tied to either the email or cloud solution I use.

These are just examples. If the note-taking app is good and meets my needs, I may use the one that comes with my email service. But, if it's not, I'm not afraid to ditch it and use the one that works best.

So, rather than go with the utopian concept of one suite of products to rule them all, I just use the best one from the best vendor that does the best job. In other words, everything I use is best of breed for my needs.

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