How much something costs has been a historical source of tension and irritation for consumers when buying stuff. We’ve all been there – not getting straight answers when trying to buy a car, finding out that your new no-fee credit card has all kinds of penalties and fees when you accidentally miss a payment, reserving a hotel room for $300 thinking you’ve got a great deal, only to find out at check-in that there’s a daily $72 “resort fee.” Unfortunately, enterprise pricing for software and services is often no different.
Your users cross some magic bandwidth threshold…and suddenly your vendor is trying to attach a surcharge to the invoice at end of quarter. You’re quoted a per user/per month price, but under the covers, an additional fee is levied on users who have more than one device. Or once you have more than five gateways, there’s suddenly a per-gateway charge.
You get the idea. These kinds of surprises are not welcome, and really, are disingenuous.
Recently, I’ve even heard stories about certain vendors intentionally quoting “list plus” pricing to smaller customers because they really only want big enterprise business.
What to look for in enterprise pricing models
There’s no shortage of ways that vendor pricing models might not be what they appear. You want to make sure you unearth any non-obvious “gotchas” so that you really understand the purchase price. Then, you’ll want a clear picture about what it’s going to take to actually deploy the solution. How many people, how much time. Is the vendor going to insist on professional services, etc…
Remember that it’s not just the license or even deployment costs, but what it will cost to live with? These ongoing, cost-of-ownership expenses include the number of personnel required to administer and support the solution, understanding what kind of helpdesk ticket volume the solution will generate, for security products especially you’ll want to try to understand the circumstances that may cause end-user dissatisfaction. And last, if the solution goes down, what is the effect on your business?
Sometimes, how a solution is architected can end up costing you money that you hadn’t planned on spending. For example, if a solution routes all of your traffic through their cloud, you’re going to be paying additional bandwidth fees (not to mention suffering a performance and/or privacy hit). Solutions that can’t handle today’s modern workloads may also require you have a secondary product running in parallel costing you time, money, and impacting productivity.
Training and certification
Solutions that are complex to deploy and use also may require additional training and vendor-specific certification. Your team may not have the time to get this training which may result in extended deployment times and worse, incorrectly configured products that result in downtime and/or breaches. These additional costs should be factored in to the overall costs.
Cost of “fitting in”
Most organizations already have significant investments in their IT and Security stack. Does the new solution integrate with what you already have? And even if it does, is there additional “1 + 1 = 3” value? The ideal situation is when the new solution helps you derive value from existing investments that wasn’t previously possible.
Cybersecurity solutions are famous (infamous?) for degrading the end user experience as they ratchet up the security level. It’s a hard problem, to be sure, as additional security often comes at the expense of user experience. Performance degradation, additional client side tools that must be deployed and learned, negative productivity impacts resulting from users having to do things in a new, unnatural way, etc. are not uncommon side effects of deploying a new solution.
Yes, you can have it all (even with enterprise pricing)
While it doesn’t happen often, you really can improve your organization’s security posture and provide a great end-user experience. Achieving this requires that you do your homework, ask some probing questions, and maybe hold your vendor’s feet to the fire a bit. By doing so, you’ll be more likely to get the solution you desire at a price you are comfortable with, making for a more effective solution and a good working relationship with the vendor.
Of course, I think we’ve done a great job on our pricing here at Banyan Security. Unlike other vendors, Banyan simply charges per user. There are no hidden/additional fees for connectors/gateways, number of devices, applications, or throughput. And, you can get started for free with our Team edition.