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Tips for negotiating a contract with VDI vendors

How do you arrange the ideal VDI contract? Shop around and pit vendors against each other; never pay full price; and if all else fails, convince the vendor to throw in products or services for free.

Negotiating a contract with VDI vendors is something of an art form. A vendor is never going to give you the best possible deal upfront: You have to work for it.

To get the most bang for your buck, make sure you have a relationship with at least two vendors. This gives you a little bit of leverage,especially if the vendors know that you are shopping around for the best price. Also, never pay retail. Enterprise-class vendors will typically give you a discount for placing larger orders. The bigger the order, the higher percentage discount you can expect.

My own personal experience has been that if you purchase hardware or software from a reseller rather than a vendor, you probably won't get as good a discount. Resellers typically do not have the pricing flexibility that a vendor such as VMware or Microsoft might have. That does not necessarily mean, however, that purchasing from a reseller will get you a bad deal.

If you're negotiating a contract and you don't end up with the price that you want, there are other ways of getting your money's worth. For example, I once negotiated a software application and got to the point where the vendor just could not go any lower. The vendor really wanted my business, so I got him to throw in a free support contract. I ended up with a better deal than I would have had if I had gotten the price that I wanted for the software.

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What's the best advice you can offer for negotiating a contract with a VDI vendor?