Tuesday, July 1, 2008

You don't really think the floor mats were free, do you?

Have you ever purchased a car and during the negotiations the salesman offered to throw in free floormats (or some other accessory) to "sweeten the deal"?

News flash #1: If you drop tens of thousands of dollars on this sled, those floor mats are *not* free.

News flash #2: The "free" floor mats may not be the best ones for your needs.

The same applies to "free" features in your IT infrastructure, for example:

  • Built-in VPN clients and protocols are frequently not very robust or secure.
    • PPtP, anyone?
  • Built-in remote access mechanisms are also often not very robust or secure.
    • MS RDP?
  • Manufacturer- or vendor-specific tools don't always "play nice" in mixed environments.
  • Free- if you have enough licenses and excess server capacity.
    • Like WSUS- Windows Software Update Services
      • Only runs on Windows Server OSes
      • Only checks Microsoft products

Don't get me wrong, I like free stuff. And some things included in packages/suites make sense, work well together, and are the best choice (says the UTM engineer).

I just don't believe that free is always the best, or even cheapest, way to go. Sometimes, free is too much to pay.

By the way, Microsoft isn't the only company that does such things, they are just an easy target.