• United States
Contributing Writer

Know what to ask when

Oct 22, 20033 mins
Data Center

* Ask questions

IT managers are clear about what frustrates them most when looking at new technologies: Knowing what to ask vendors.

I hear this repeatedly at our events, no matter what topic we are covering. And they worry that not grilling vendors about the right issues could end up costing time and money down the road.

I argue that at times it’s a case of you don’t know what you don’t know until you know it. It may be two months into a pilot project and you trip across something that hindsight says you should have asked about in the first place. However, there is no way you could have known it would be an issue until you started down the road.

The best way to tackle the “what to ask” issue is to make sure you network with other IT professionals via Web sites or local organizations. (And, of course, shameless plug, at our events.)

I watch IT pros gathering at our events, their heads bent low, sketching out their latest projects and it’s clear they are gathering information from each other. Inevitably, one of the pros puts their head up and has the ah-ha moment. That moment when their newfound friend has enlightened them about something they didn’t know and would not have been able to divine elsewhere.

In forums across the Web, such as those on Network World Fusion, you can gain knowledge from answers to your peers’ questions. Pouring through the forums, you’ll find troubleshooting tips from experts, peer-to-peer advice, and online pow-wows about a myriad of projects. Through these online postings, you’ll be able to gather a sense of what to ask, when to ask and what to ask about.

Local organizations, such as Windows Users Groups, are also a great way to get up to speed on new technologies. Chances are someone in the group has encountered a similar situation as you or would be willing to brainstorm ideas with you.

In our recent Buzz Issue, we lay out the important questions to ask on topics such as on-demand or “utility” computing, collaboration tools and intelligent storage. Look for the “what to ask” graphic toward the bottom of each article at> .

And, as always, you can simply send a message my way at and I’ll try to get it answered for you. Ignorance is not bliss when you’re talking about spending corporate dollars. So pipe up and ask some questions before you approach a vendor. You’ll be glad you did.