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Tools for finding tools: Find the right networking products for your enterprise

Whether you get bombarded by vendors at a conference or have to sit through a sales pitch in a meeting, it seems getting a clear, apples-to-apples comparison of networking products is impossible. Even Googling a company’s website points us to a bullet list of vagaries meant to impress — I’m not sure who. (Seriously, what does “comprehensive solution” actually translate to, and how does that deserve a bullet point unto itself?) How can you trust the synopsis of a product offering when you’re getting it from a sales team?

When you want to get nitty-gritty details, you know some of your best options are to read whitepapers. But who has time to read multiple white papers from multiple vendors, let alone every whitepaper of every product offering?

I feel like I’m asking an age-old, unsolvable question. In 2001, this question was asked on the IT Toolbox for a comparison of SCM vendors. Three years later Nyaniz expressed the same frustration on the same forum asking for a larger set of vendor comparison. This year, SEO’Brien talked about a web analytics project that compared ultimate search engines like Google, Coremetrics and Hitbox — it just seems to be an issue that doesn’t go away.

Why should it be so hard to find such comparison charts? Is it because the information can’t be free? Are analytics firms withholding these stats for paying customers? There has got to be a way this information can be made easily accessible to honest IT personnel. But how would you find accurate enough results without paying anyone to do the work? readers evaluated several vendors in our Product Leadership Awards, but are user comments the best way to get a pulse of the market? What other places do you look at to find the right tools? I’d be interested to know.

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