The last tech bust hurt established tech vendors like Cisco and Sun, but many small companies were wiped out entirely, leaving the big guys as the only game int town for companies looking to buy gear. Once again, however, businesses are starting to dabble in offerings from less-established firms. As is often the case, newer upstarts offer more advanced solutions, whose appeal has to be balanced against the fact that the company may not even be around in a couple years. So while large firms may move a little slower, companies can at least be confident that the vendor will stick around and support the offering for as long they need. This best-of-breed vs. incumbent vendor story is really common throughout a range of tech areas. In recent years, major tech firms have been snapping up small companies to expand their offerings, under the assumption that companies wanted to buy as much technology as they could from the fewest number of vendors. The fact that companies are once again expanding their vendor list to include smaller companies may be a sign that these types of things are cyclical. Another factor may be the emergence of more open standards in technology. As it becomes easier for customers to plug together technology from different companies, the lock-in effect that benefits large vendors will start to disappear.
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