Vendor-neutral describes a state in which no one Vendor can control the definition, revision or distribution of a specification. Vendor-neutral specifications encourage the development of competing yet compatible implementations, freeing the purchaser to choose from a multitude of vendors without suffering a loss of functionality. Vendor-neutral specifications must be comprehensive, consistent, and either publicly available or licensed at a nominal fee. Additionally, they must be defined by a multilateral association that is representative of a broad cross-section of the computer industry, open to new members, publishes the rules of membership and operates according to democratic principles. Preferably, a vendor-neutral specification is supplemented with at least one reference implementation. This reference would be available in a format that allows re-creation — that format would be source code for software implementations — and a set of conformance tests that sufficiently ensure the implementation’s integrity under all reasonable conditions of projected use.[1]

Why Vendor Neutrality Matters[2]

  • Avoid Vendor Lock-In: Relationships with vendors are important, however if this results in the vendor being specified, as opposed to the requirement, this is not a good result. Allowing for competitive processes, and ensuring that these are fair and equal for all participants, is critical.
  • Gain Cost Control: To achieve an exclusive position is a vendors dream scenario. It allows them to control the pricing and your cost base. It is not always possible to focus on vendors over extended periods, to ensure that they still meet your original goals. Being able to rapidly revisit a requirement across multiple vendors is critical for cost control. Allowing you to negotiate rates freely and gain leverage and control over costs. With an ability to regularly engage vendors to compete for your business, you keep your vendors focused on your business. Then you are free to work with any vendor and you are always in control.
  • Flexibility to Add New Vendors:: Vendor neutrality allows you to add new vendors and investigate sourcing options. Empowering you to control your supply base and not your current vendors.
  • Scalability on Requirements: As you grow and expand your business, so does your need for vendors that can meet your demands quickly. With a vendor-neutral solution, you can add products, additional vendors and grow your business leveraging a range of current and new vendors.
  • Reporting and Dashboards: Visibility is critical to vendor-neutrality. If you cannot see what is occurring, in terms of vendor supply, then you cannot act. Even your vendor may not know what they have supplied to you over time! It is therefore critical that all transactions are captured in terms of price and specifications. Also, setting thresholds and alerts is an essential part of remaining vendor-neutral: allowing you to monitor activity without having to generate a specific report. Plus, you need to ensure that contractual rates are adhered to: It is all very well to negotiate price breaks, however it is essential to monitor and know when these should be applied.

How Vendor Neutrality Helps Your Business[3]

Vendor neutrality means that your company chooses the most suitable technology, hardware or software without a bias towards a particular manufacturer or provider. There are several key advantages to designing and using a vendor neutral system. When you aren’t tied to a particular vendor, you can:

  • Find the best solutions. You can choose suppliers based on their strengths and core competencies as opposed to relationships. You can research individual companies, technologies, software and hardware and choose the pieces that will suit your operation’s specific needs. Vendor neutrality allows your business to choose the right solution for your operation.
  • Design solutions that work. You can compare and contrast items available from a variety of vendors and take the best pieces to suit your needs. Vendor neutral hardware and software are designed for compatibility, which means you can combine pieces from several vendors to make a custom solution that solves the challenge at hand. Vendor neutrality allows you the freedom to create the exact system that you need instead of relying on an out-of-the-box solution.
  • Use leading technology and innovations. Instead of waiting for one manufacturer to develop new systems, you can incorporate cutting edge and emerging technologies to your existing custom solutions as they become available. This allows you to consistently adopt best practices via best-of-breed technology.

See Also


  1. Definition - What Does Vendor-Neutral Mean? Gartner
  2. Why Does Being Vendor-Neutral Matter? Claritum
  3. Three ways vendor neutrality helps your business True North Solutions