What is an "independent" consulting firm ?
A consulting firm that is not a provider of any equipment, product or technology (nor the representative or affiliate of a provider).
Providers are more interested in selling their stuff than in minimizing the investments and O&M costs of the client.
Providers can not perform an objective comparison between different alternatives, because they will benefit
by recommending the alternative that makes use of the stuff they sell.
The cost of an independent consulting firm is lower than the savings that this consultancy will bring to the client.