vendor neutral

This definition is part of our Essential Guide: Managing technology providers to meet business initiatives: A CIO guide
Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore

Vendor neutrality is a business and design approach that seeks to ensure broad compatibility and interchangeability of products and technologies. The model encompasses standardization, non-proprietary design principles and unbiased business practices. 

Vendor-neutral hardware and software are designed for compatibility and interoperability. The term vendor-neutral contrasts with vendor-specific. In a vendor-specific data center, for example, hardware and software are supplied by single vendors, while in a vendor-neutral data center, technologies come from a variety of sources. Most current data centers are closer to the vendor-neutral model, although they may rely heavily upon a particular vendor. 

Certification programs may also be vendor-neutral or vendor-specific. A vendor-neutral certification program covers the subject matter more broadly, while a vendor-specific program covers a single vendor's technology in greater depth.

In a business context, vendor neutrality translates to making decisions pragmatically in terms of the best options, rather than favoring one vendor over another for some other type of benefit.  


This was last updated in April 2013

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