An Imperfect Philosophy – Why You Can Do Better Than “One Throat to Choke”

By Jason Paquin

Years ago, I was meeting with a longterm Chesapeake Systems client and a storage vendor we commonly resell, integrate and support. The vendor was appreciative of the client’s business so he asked, “Why have you guys stuck with us so long and been so loyal?” The immediate response, without hesitation, was “We like to have one throat to choke!”

A new angle to an old argument
In the technology industry, we hear the phrase, “one throat to choke” all too often. Clients want a turnkey solution – a prepackaged solution, typically from the same vendor. They want one person to call if things go awry. But there are fundamental flaws to this approach.

For one, instead of focusing on success, your company is operating from the get-go as if the system is going to fail. Second, a storage company that includes asset management software might offer a turnkey solution, but once you do anything with it other than exactly what they built it for, you lose support, and who wants that? Third, you’re assuming that a single-vendor solution actually exists.

We get that on the surface, you may see value in having one support number to call, one support center that understands every need and guarantees they are met. But as a company that spends the vast majority of our time spec’ing solutions that meet our clients’ needs, budgets and growth plans, we know the reality is that behind every solution are multiple vendors, manufacturers, development firms, etc. For example, a storage vendor selling a storage appliance is reliant on an operating system they didn’t write to run it on; a RAID manufacturer’s controller that they commonly don’t develop or maintain; a SuperMicro, Dell, HP, AIC, or other server chassis and mother board; and the list can go on and on. Commonly, entire product lines from one vendor are rebranded products from a third party manufacturer under partnerships and license agreements. Even Avid, often thought of as the example of the “single vendor vertical solution provider” relies on many third party components in their overall ecosystem (which may or may not be obvious when looking at their quotes).

So what does this mean for you?

Synergy between the client and vendors is still the ultimate goal. Accountability still matters. But rather than looking at your relationship with your vendor as “one throat to choke,” take a more positive perspective. Don’t assume failure. Instead focus on achieving meaningful business results and the successful outcomes that are possible. View your vendor as “one person to hug.”

Having someone who focuses on the entire puzzle is possible. But inviting tiers of support, where any single manufacturer or development firm focuses on and supports their piece of the puzzle, is a positive aspect of integration.

What makes Chesapeake Systems a good partner is that we bring the right manufacturers and vendors to the table and represent you to make sure you’re getting the best out of them. To us the very definition of a Systems Integrator is the party that can take true responsibility over multiple solutions and mixed environments. It is not our opinion that manufacturers are often the right party to be the one taking responsibility of the environment in the same way.

We look at:
How do they talk to each other?
How are they compatible with each other?
How do they meet your unique needs in the first place?
Does each piece of the puzzle represent the best balance of value and functionality for the customer?

How the collaborative approach works
An open collaboration means each party knows what piece of the puzzle they are responsible for and how they all come together. We call these partners on your behalf for any support, and they understand how they fit into your puzzle.

Benefits of a collaborative approach include:

A better review of ideas – it’s a melding of the minds.
More ideas, and vendors pushing one another to do better, leads to growth.
Bringing multiple pieces together can help you meet your business goals.
Every partner is focused on their piece and works to make that piece better, support that piece better or integrate that piece better.
Nobody is in it alone. Support tends to be quicker and more reliable when manufacturers are focusing on their piece and not the whole puzzle.

The reality is, Chesapeake Systems doesn’t know everything. But we do know the right people to call and we develop the partnerships to get it done right.

Ready to see how Chesapeake Systems can help you achieve your business goals? Contact us at or call 410-752-7729.