David Heinemeier Hansson

January 10, 2023

The only thing worse than cloud pricing is the enterprisey alternatives

We spent the last couple of months thinking that bringing HEY home from the cloud was going to involve SUSE Rancher and Harvester. A combination of enterprisey software products that would give us a cloud-like experience on our own hardware, and require minimal changes to how HEY is already packaged and deployed. But we should have smelled something was off when getting basic information about pricing took several online meetings, and then looked elsewhere, because the final bid was a total turd.

We spend about three million dollars per year on renting hardware and services in the cloud. Replacing that with owning more of our own hardware and running open source software is partly, and importantly, about lowering that ridiculous bill. But the bid we received back from SUSE came in at an even more ridiculous two million dollars, just in licensing and support costs, to run Rancher and Harvester on the fleet of hardware we intended.

Now at first, we actually thought this wasn't going to be an issue. Enterprise sales is notorious for stratospheric list prices that are then discounted back to earth to actually close a deal. When we buy our beloved Dell servers, we often end up with discounts of 80%! So spec'ing out a $10,000 server doesn't feel like such a splurge, if the real price is actually just $2,000.

If that had been a similar story here, this two-million dollar contract would have been $400,000/year. Still way too much, but we could have scaled back a bit here and there, and perhaps ended up at something we could live with. But when we pressed them on the belly for the discount, the answer was 3. Three percent. Yeah, okay, but no.

Now who am I tell tell someone what the market will bear. I hear that SUSE is doing well selling these packages to the military and insurance companies. Good for them. 

BUT WHY ARE THEY WASTING OUR FUCKING TIME IN MEETING AFTER MEETING WITHHOLDING DEAL-BREAKER PRICING?

Because that's the enterprise sales game. The haggling, the hoodwinking, the game-playing. The let's-see-what-we-can-get-away-with bullshit that brings meaning to the life of suits duking it out in a negotiation contest. That's what WINNING the deal is about. Snookering the other side.

I can't stand it. In fact, I loathe it.

So now I'm bottling up that resentment, shaking it twice, and chugging it down to power through an alternate route. In fact, we're going to build our own theme park with blackjack and... no fucking enterprise sales people.

About David Heinemeier Hansson

Creator of Ruby on Rails, co-owner & CTO of 37signals (Basecamp & HEY), best-selling author (REWORK, It Doesn't Have to Be Crazy at Work, REMOTE), Le Mans class-winning racing driver, antitrust advocate, investor in Danish startups, frequent podcast guest, and family man.