Voted Best Answer
Sep 20, 2018 - 09:35 AM
On the surface there you rightly become concerned about conflicts of interest. If a partner is selling Microsoft licenses to you why would you engage them in managing a Microsoft audit for you? Setting aside the awkward questions that arise when you end up non-compliant on a solution that they've sold you, who are they in greater thrall to? Software reselling is a very low margin business but still important in terms of revenue numbers, and they have targets to meet. However, they'll have intimate knowledge of your environment if you're treating them as a VAR, and that can help in terms of tapping in to free and usually quite competent software licensing knowledge.
I'm firmly in favour of keeping such relationships at arms length, you want to manage expectations appropriately and not introduce too much noise or sales pressure. By all means build the relationship but it needs to be professional - meaning you'll continue to go for competitive bids in order to keep them honest.
As to a consultant/reseller having a relationship with a particular SAM vendor I think the only way to determine if it's a good thing or not is in the quality of service they provide to you. How good is their internal support team? Are they available? What's their first-time fix rate like? Do they understand how your environment works? These are difficult to judge prior to starting the relationship. I've certainly had conversations with vendors who partner with more than one SAM tool provider and I always wonder what criteria they use to recommend one over the other. I'd hope it's something like fit for your business but equally it could just be how much margin they're getting from the provider.
Certainly if you're dealing with a pure independent they are only going to be going in to bat for you. Customer acquisition is challenging for those firms so they'll be keen to provide a good service and keep you as a customer. However, if it's a single engagement (e.g. manage an Oracle ULA renewal) are they incentivised to perform? That all comes down to the contract terms you've negotiated.