Recently a client asked me “What’s the difference between LoadRunner and Performance Center? They’re both sold by the same company, but they seem to do much the same thing.”
I think he could see that I was about to launch into a half-hour lecture on the topic because he quickly added “Just give me the elevator pitch”.
I thought for a second and explained “Well, obviously they are both used for performance testing, but Performance Center is the Enterprise version of LoadRunner; so it suits larger companies who need to run performance testing for multiple projects at the same time without the problem of sharing a Controller or purchasing duplicate licenses.”
He put his hand on my shoulder and said “That’s an okay pitch, but it has one big problem. Let’s go and get a coffee, and I’ll tell you what I think of when I hear someone say ‘enterprise software’.”
Here are my notes from the conversation:
|Enterprise Software||Shrinkwrap Software|
|Is sold to a very small number of customers (due to the size of the market for something so specialised), so the development costs must be amortised over fewer sales. Expect a 6 or 7 figure price tag.||Large consumer market. Sold cheaply to a large number of customers.|
|Generally has complicated pricing that makes it difficult to compare other products that solve the same problem. Prices are often not public, meaning you have to ask a sales person. Quoted prices might vary depending on who is asking.||Simple pricing with one or two versions (e.g. “standard”, and “pro”). Prices listed on a website.|
|Because of its price tag, it must be sold to upper management. It has a long sales cycle involving lots of meetings with sales people and pre-sales consultants. Sale must align to corporate budget cycle. May involve perks such as being invited to a corporate box at the Grand Prix. Cost of sale is very high.||Probably sold by a website with no interaction with a real person. Paid for out of petty cash, with little or no “approval process” red tape. Short sales cycle.|
|The product is sold to people who are not going to use it themselves. This creates mis-aligned incentives as features are added that are unimportant to the users, but sound good to their managers’ manager (auditability, tracability, visibility, reporting, compliance with corporate IT policies or platforms)||Features are driven by the users who will buy the product.|
|Is horribly complicated to install and configure. Requires Professional Services/Consulting days to do this. An upgrade is a big deal that must be planned, and performed by professionals.||Anyone can install it. Just click click click through the installation wizard.|
|Requires an “administrator” to perform regular maintenance and keep it running.||No maintenance required.|
|Because of the small install base, there are likely to be a lot of bugs related to different versions of the platform it is installed on. New versions have bugs for a long time as there are fewer users to find them and complain about them.||Works on the widest variety of operating system versions (although they are probably all still Windows). Fewer annoying bugs.|
|Usability is generally poor. Users of the software probably require training, even if they already know how to do the same thing with another similar product.||The software should be reletively intuitive to use.|
So, while I don’t think that the two columns are a particularly good fit for either Performance Center or LoadRunner, I will probably avoid using the word “enterprise” when I am trying to say that a product is suited for activities that are “business critical”, or that a product is “better than the cheap consumer version”.