Determining the order of evaluations for networking channel partners

In a large networking project, you as a reseller require not just vendors, but networking service providers and networking tools to get the job done. After you've evaluated potential networking partners, learn how to act on the information you've gathered in the most efficient way.

By James D. McCabe

The seventh and final step in evaluating vendors, tools and service providers for your networking projects is deciding which of them will be evaluated first.

Remember that this process can be used to select vendors, their equipment, and service providers for your design, and that you will apply this process to only one type of evaluation at a time. However, there may be information that you gathered for one evaluation that can also be used for the other evaluations. For example, vendor information, gathered for vendor evaluations, may also be useful to evaluate specific items of equipment from that vendor. Likewise, service providers may be using network equipment similar to those you are evaluating. This may be particularly important from compatibility and end-to-end service perspectives.

This implies that there may be an optimal order for evaluations. In fact, it can be to your advantage to sequence your evaluations so that you can reuse and build upon information. A common order to evaluations (as indicated by the title to this section) is vendor, vendor equipment, and service provider. The logic for doing this is as follows:

  1. You may want to choose which vendors you want for your design before making specific selections for network equipment. Vendor choices can strongly influence equipment selection. Of course, there is a counter argument to this: that you should not let vendor selections influence your choice of equipment. However, typically your selections for vendors and for equipment are at the very least loosely coupled.
  2. Understanding which network equipment you plan to acquire will help you to make better decisions regarding service providers.

An alternative to this is to evaluate vendors and service providers concurrently. This does not mean you would combine your evaluations, but rather perform them separately during the same time frame.


Evaluating vendors and service providers for networking projects

  How to choose vendors, tools and service providers
  Seeding the evaluation process
  Having conversations about prospective networking partners
  Gathering data on prospective networking partners
  Refining your criteria for prospective networking partners
  Developing ratings for prospective networking partners
  Modifying the list of prospective networking partners
  Determining the order of evaluations for networking partners

Reproduced from Chapter ten of the book Network Analysis, Architecture, and Design by James D. McCabe. Copyright 2007, Morgan Kaufman Publishers, an imprint of Elsevier Science. Reproduced by permission of Elsevier, 30 Corporate Drive, Burlington, MA. Written permission from Elsevier is required for all other uses.

This was first published in August 2007

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