Here in the U.S. we celebrate the 4th of July our day of independence signifying freedom. But we often seem happier when there is someone telling us what to do -- some person or vendor who takes away the burden of a decision and just makes it for us.\u00a0\u00a0\n\n\nWe don\u2019t think about our freedoms enough and while I could easily drift into a rant about politics, let\u2019s stayed focused on our freedom to choose technology and who has to make the choice.\n\n\nThe Politics of IT Decision-Making\n\n\nOver a decade ago I wrote my first column and it had a title like \u201cLinux not ready for the Enterprise.\u201d That one column changed my life largely because it got me to think of things differently. I left Forrester shortly after to go off on my own as a result.\u00a0\u00a0\n\n\nThe column was actually a repurposed con side of a debate piece that I didn\u2019t want to waste. The pro side, written by a CIO, was pulled because she was afraid she\u2019d get fired. And I actually thought she should be.\n\n\n[Innovation: How to Resuscitate Tech Innovation at Your Company ]\n\n\nThe piece wasn\u2019t about the Linux the platform, but about picking any platform based on a political view. She chose Linux because she wanted to go to war with Microsoft. I don\u2019t believe CIOs have the authority to declare war with anyone. That\u2019s a CEO thing. My argument was that anything that got CIOs to behave badly should be avoided.\n\n\nNow to be fair, I wasn\u2019t looking for anything deep as I was pinch-hitting for an analyst who refused to write. I wasn\u2019t the expert on the technology, so I picked a battlefield I knew something about: organizational politics and command hierarchy.\n\n\nBut then, as now, I don\u2019t believe a CIO can declare war, but they can subordinate their company to another and I wonder if that is really in their job description either.\n\n\nNo Freedom in Vendor Lock In\n\n\nThere are a handful of companies that have implemented a lock-in strategy. This means they work like the hotel in the song \u201cHotel California.\u201d You can check in any time you like, but you can never leave.\n\n\nThere are benefits to programs like this in that they reduce choice and you take less risk because you consistently can blame one vendor for problems. But they have a cost in that the vendor knows you are subordinated to them and, like a feudal lord, they will have a tendency to milk you for resources.\u00a0\u00a0\n\n\n[Cloud: Why Major Misconceptions Surround the Enterprise Public Cloud ]\n\n\nYou see, I believe that product choices should be based on corporate needs and related benefits not based on a vendor\u2019s need for more revenue or because you have no other choice.\u00a0\u00a0\n\n\nNow there are risks to this: Stuff often doesn\u2019t work well together and if you make a choice, you get the blame if it is a bad one.\u00a0\u00a0 But I still the choice is worth it.\n\n\nAre You on a Vendor Path to Freedom?\n\n\nDuring this time when we celebrate freedom, I think we should work to preserve it for our firms. With that in mind, before even considering a product, consider whether the vendor works well with others, has a history of doing what is right for the customer and works its butt off to be competitive and honest -- not dictatorial and dishonest.\n\n\nThere are vendors in the market at all levels that preserve choice, focus on customer advocacy and loyalty as key measures of success, and that appear to care more about you and your company than they do about your quarterly budget and how much they can get of it.\u00a0\u00a0\n\n\nI\u2019m suggesting that this 4th of July, even if you aren\u2019t U.S.-based, you sit back and think of the vendors that had your back and those that had a knife to it. Now is the perfect time to formulate a plan to get more of the former and get the latter the hell out of your company. In the end, I expect you\u2019ll be more successful, happier and to a large extent more free as a result.\n\n\nHappy 4th of July!