Transparency is one of those things I didn't realize was truly important until later in my personal development. Once I learned of its importance, though, life became better for me and those around me.
I can only hope that others aren't as slow as I was to catch on ...
Yesterday, Jerome M. Wendt of DCIG issued a breathless review regarding a particular vendor. Upon closer examination, Mr. Wendt seems to have a habit of communicating specific corporate story lines in very high fidelity.
I went looking on his site to try and ascertain his business model -- was he being paid by vendors, customers, or perhaps something else? I gave up after a while.
Mr. Wendt isn't disclosing that information.
This is not a slam against Mr. Wednt's opinions (although I disagree with many of them), nor is this an indictment of a potential "pay to say" business model (although I find that somewhat personally repugnant as well).
My real beef? He's not being transparent.
If you sell a financial product or advice, you are bound by law to disclose certain thing. Ditto for real estate, medical decision, automobile purchases -- actually, a whole host of things require disclosure, including -- more recently -- new FTC guidelines for bloggers.
For anyone in our industry who offers up an opinion, being transparent is not only a good and ethical business practice, it's also becoming the law.
A twitter-storm erupted earlier this week when Jim Haberkorn at HP wrote a blog post sharply criticizing another vendor for marketing a high availability (HA) solution that -- in fact -- could cause far more availability problems than it protected against, especially when compared to solutions from many other vendors.
I read the post, downloaded the documentation from both NetApp and IBM, and found myself strongly agreeing with Jim's assertion. So I said so via a few Twitter posts. And promptly got the cr*p kicked out of me -- not on the merits of what I said, but the fact I worked for a competing vendor.
This was a great example of transparency working against you.
I attempt to be transparent with everyone regarding my employment by EMC and how I am compensated. For example, blogging is not part of my assigned duties here, and I receive no direct reward or compensation for doing so.
That being said, over the decades I have amassed considerable experience and expertise on this particular topic, as has Mr. Haberkorn. Undoubtedly there are people out there with more expertise than people like us, but there's not an awful lot of them.
We, as vendors, had our opinions widely discounted and ignored, simply because we were employees of a competitive company. That's frustrating, to say the least. I'd match my personal expertise on these particular topics with just about anyone's, and most certainly be able to hold my own.
I got some good coaching from @aarondelp, @jpwarren and others on how best to handle these situations (thanks, guys!) so that's an area where I'm going to try and improve going forward.
That being said, Jim, myself or anyone else with deep industry experience shouldn't be unduly penalized for being open and transparent regarding our employment.
If you go read CalvinZ's real beef with NetApp, it lines up with my own: customers aren't being told of the risks they're being exposed to. He has his stories, I have mine.
Feel free to completely ignore both of us, since we work for competing vendors (as above).
One example you can see for yourself is the treatment of various risk exposures in the NetApp documentation as compared to the IBM N Series documentation (details in the comments from Jim's original post).
The IBM version is far more forthcoming in being transparent regarding the risks involved. I applaud them for that -- it's a good business practice that should be emulated.
The practice of exposing customers to well-known but less-than-obvious risks without full disclosure is not a good thing for anyone in this industry. Given the facts, if someone wants to still proceed, that's a different story altogether -- there's only so much you can do to protect people from themselves.
EMC is not as transparent as we should ideally be. I wrote recently about many of our collective efforts to "open up" EMC and encourage transparency and sharing in everything we do.
We got a great example of how much farther we have to go this week.
Our Atmos team posted a message stating that the Atmos Online storage service would henceforth be targeted only at developers, and not production environments.
Although we were completely transparent about the facts, we were not transparent in communicating our motivations. This "transparency gap" led to all sorts of wild and crazy speculation that wasn't even remotely true.
Chad and 'Zilla did a great job of setting the story straight -- no need for me to do so here -- but it was an object lesson on the value of transparency in not only the facts of a situation, but the motivations as well.
Glad That's Off My Chest
We all work in a very competitive industry -- there's complex technology involved, and it's all moving pretty fast. I'd like to think that everyone could be taken at their word, but I think I'm being a bit of an idealist.
That being said, we all can help out -- by continually demanding transparency from each other.
Go ahead -- tell the truth. It's better that way.