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You can’t trust what you read on the Internet – Unless it’s EMC

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Seems like Chris Mellor has struck a raw nerve with EMC and in particular Chad Sakac over this article he wrote for The Register.  Unfortunately Chad’s response makes him appear more like a spoilt child than a marketing professional who’s prepared to take the rough with the smooth in IT marketing.  Of course this isn’t the first time Chad’s been upset with someone’s misinterpretation of his words, as I found out from this article I posted.  It also isn’t the first time Chris Mellor has been under attack as this article from Chuck Hollis shows.  The use of language here is particularly interesting; whilst Chuck criticises Chris “respectfully”, he still describes his words as “ramblings”.

It is completely hypocritical for EMC (and I class Chad as EMC rather than an individual – his blog is clearly driven by and 100% focused on marketing) to expect to give out the criticism yet balk when it is given back.  EMC are as culpable as any vendor in mudslinging.  A quick check of the EMC corporate bloggers finds the following competitor negative posts:

Barry Burke

Barry is particularly focused on insulting the opposition, with some questionable content:

http://thestorageanarchist.typepad.com/weblog/2011/01/3016-commodity-vs-custom-hu-cares.html
http://thestorageanarchist.typepad.com/weblog/2010/07/3008-shame-on-all-of-us.html - (yet EMC do chidish tricks like parking cars outside their competitors and spray painting sidewalks)
http://thestorageanarchist.typepad.com/weblog/2010/03/2044-ibm-dumbs-down-storage-marketing-again.html
http://thestorageanarchist.typepad.com/weblog/2010/03/2045-fud-slinging-reaches-new-lows.html
http://thestorageanarchist.typepad.com/weblog/2010/02/2042-bring-out-your-dead.html
http://thestorageanarchist.typepad.com/weblog/2009/10/2026-whats-in-a-name-ds8700.html
http://thestorageanarchist.typepad.com/weblog/2009/10/2025-rip-ds8300.html
http://thestorageanarchist.typepad.com/weblog/2009/09/2024-stuck-in-the-middle-with-hu.html
http://thestorageanarchist.typepad.com/weblog/2009/06/2011-i-guess-making-sht-up-just-comes-natural-for-hds.html
http://thestorageanarchist.typepad.com/weblog/2009/05/2002-meh-ibm-really-really-doesnt-get-flash.html
http://thestorageanarchist.typepad.com/weblog/2009/02/1038-val—exposed.html – (When EMC liked Chris Mellor)
http://thestorageanarchist.typepad.com/weblog/2008/11/1031-xiv—buy-one-get-one-free-close-out.html
http://thestorageanarchist.typepad.com/weblog/2008/09/1022-are-you-re.html
http://thestorageanarchist.typepad.com/weblog/2008/09/1021-bass-ackwa.html
http://thestorageanarchist.typepad.com/weblog/2008/07/1014-the-laurel.html

The last of these posts could be treated as particularly personal and distasteful, as it pictures IBM employees as Laurel & Hardy.

Whilst Chuck’s ramblings are mostly harmless, he isn’t averse to the odd negative dig – http://chucksblog.emc.com/chucks_blog/2010/09/hitachis-new-vsp-separating-the-wheat-from-the-chaff.html

Who can forget this quality post from 2008; http://chucksblog.emc.com/chucks_blog/2008/08/your-storage-mi.html

Mark Twomey (aka StorageZilla)

Yes, Mark has his fair share too:

http://storagezilla.typepad.com/storagezilla/2011/01/its-going-to-be-a-long-year-for-some.html
http://storagezilla.typepad.com/storagezilla/2010/12/hp-p2000-users-change-the-admin-account-password.html
http://storagezilla.typepad.com/storagezilla/2010/11/dawn-of-the-dumb.html
http://storagezilla.typepad.com/storagezilla/2010/08/fracture.html
http://storagezilla.typepad.com/storagezilla/2010/07/zillas-top-ten-reasons-moshe-yanai-is-leaving-ibm.html
http://storagezilla.typepad.com/storagezilla/2010/05/hitachi-uvm-and-the-mystery-of-the-changing-chart.html “Chief Science Fiction Officer”
http://storagezilla.typepad.com/storagezilla/2010/04/netapp-performance-testing-engineer-tells-it-like-it-is.html
http://storagezilla.typepad.com/storagezilla/2010/03/are-you-using-uvm.html
http://storagezilla.typepad.com/storagezilla/2010/02/virtual-vs-static-provisioning.html
http://storagezilla.typepad.com/storagezilla/2010/02/prestidigitation.html

Chad, you’re coming across more pompous than usual; if you can’t see why people criticise, then look no further than the hyperbole of your own blog post titles.  You say:

“Look, I respect Chris.   He has a job to do.  I think he’s very good at what he does.   But, you simply can’t deny that he titles and structures his posts to be short, punchy, and draw eyeballs. Hey, he’s a reporter.  I understand that. It’s no different that me having my job.”

Yet have titles for your posts such as “VNX = the worlds biggest, most bad a$$, swiss-army knife storage” – surely it’s the pot calling the kettle here….

About Chris M Evans

Chris M Evans has worked in the technology industry since 1987, starting as a systems programmer on the IBM mainframe platform, while retaining an interest in storage. After working abroad, he co-founded an Internet-based music distribution company during the .com era, returning to consultancy in the new millennium. In 2009 Chris co-founded Langton Blue Ltd (www.langtonblue.com), a boutique consultancy firm focused on delivering business benefit through efficient technology deployments. Chris writes a popular blog at http://blog.architecting.it, attends many conferences and invitation-only events and can be found providing regular industry contributions through Twitter (@chrismevans) and other social media outlets.
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  • http://etherealmind.com EtherealMind

    Hear hear.

  • Sketch

    and to think I was the only one who thought he was an “elitist”…

  • http://www.livingonthecloud.net JR

    I’ve been researching a number of storage vendors over the last 6 months as we’ve planned to upgrade our SAN. The level of bitchiness between all the vendors in their blogs and on Twitter is initially surprising, then becomes typical, but after a while is just irritating.

    In some cases, the blog in question is nothing but marketing (even though it claims to be independent, speaking for yourself, not your company etc etc etc). All this has done is make me extremely suspicious of *all* the content in the blog.

    A hint for the vendor bloggers: Focus on the positive aspects of your own products. Feel free to question competitors in their comments when they post their own blog posts, but don’t post negative articles (even if they are “rebuttals”). It makes you all look petty.

    And at the end of the day, if we customers (and prospective customers) don’t listen, all you’re doing is talking to yourselves.

    JR (not working for any storage vendor)

  • http://chucksblog.emc.com Chuck Hollis

    Hi Chris

    The only point I’d want to clarify is that my discussion with Chris Mellor over his recent post (“I Respectfully Disagree”) was just that — a discussion. I don’t think it supports your broader thesis (?).

    Regarding that post from 2008 — despite what you might think, it did partially contribute to the greater good. From that time forward, all of us storage vendors had an increased focus on usable storage capacity (all-in) vs. raw. And I thought that was a good thing. Of course, that post is now woefully out of date — that was 2008, remember?

    It seems that the vast majority of your ire seems to be directed at Barry Burke, which is understandable. Both you and he focus on high-end enterprise storage arrays almost exclusively. The potential for disagreement is very large, indeed :)

    However, if you’ve got an issue with Barry (or Chad, or me for that matter), I’d suggest you’d take it up on a personal level with the individuals involved. None of us are official representatives for EMC — we’re individual bloggers who happen to work for EMC.

    Thanks

    – Chuck

    • http://www.brookend.com Chris Evans

      Chuck

      The personification is the issue I have with Barry. It’s unreasonable to think an individual represents a company to the level that personal insults would be acceptable. Speaking of representation, I disagree that you are not official representatives; your blogs are promoted by EMC here: http://www.emc.com/community/index.htm and you especially are called on to present at many events, which you detail on Twitter. The URL you posted for your comment references your blog as http://chucksblog.emc.com. How can you not be official when you’re using the emc.com domain?

      Chris

  • tgs

    Netapp and EMC are both pretty abhorrent when it comes to their online marketing/blogging/FUD. Bring up even a slight criticism of eithers product line and a host of marketecture types will come running to talk smack, make vague references and go out of their way to ignore the points made, case in point: http://www.recoverymonkey.org/wordpress/2011/01/13/questions-to-ask-emc-regarding-their-new-vnx-systems/ oddly enough, almost none of the points made in the original post are addressed, instead you have 50+ responses rehashing all the past battles. For some it must be too hard to let your product lines speak for themselves when put up against your rivals (cough, SPC-1, cough) and instead the FUD patrol has to be engaged.

    I’m glad you singled out Burke for his consistent, nasty, and utterly unprofessional style of ad hominem based attacks. With him it’s always personal and he seems incapable of understanding that legitimate criticism about an EMC product is not akin to punching him in the nutsack. The sheer level of dishonesty on his series of posts on the XIV system has essentially turned me off from ever recommending an EMC product ever. (full disclosure, I have XIV frames on my floor)

    A note to those who work for the storage vendors, us end users and decision makers read what you post and it can have a very negative effect on purchasing decisions. If you simply can’t show us that your product is better suited to our needs, and instead simply point to the competition and preach about how they do it wrong then we tend to tune you out, nod in agreement, and then throw your proposals in the trash.

  • http://vmforsp.typepad.com/vm-for-service-providers/ Jeramiah Dooley

    Two comments in this thread make the point that both companies are hurting their brand and relationship with customers with the negative posts. Let’s all (I work for VCE, so I get lumped into the EMC side of this debacle) use this as a call to arms: be positive about your products, show why it’s the best solution, tip your hat to ALL of your competitors as we pass each other. We are all adults with families to take care of. This is my job, not my life.

    I had beers with some of the principals involved in this latest round of negativity less than 12 hours ago. Let’s spend more time being civil and professional and win back some of the credibility that ALL of us are losing (or are having lost on our behalf) with the general public. We all still have stuff to sell, remember?

    Jeramiah Dooley

  • http://www.netapp.com Mike Shea

    I enjoyed the post, and as a man working for NetApp, I’ll say that you could easily point to the same kind of posts from us as well. It is the truth, and in the never-ending heat of the storage battle, it happens. I won’t defend any of it though.

    I personally have no problem with competition, or FUD for that matter. What irks me is that too much FUD is not based on fact – I work really hard to ensure that any competitive short coming discussion comes from either – the engineering documentation, or, hands on experience.

    In fact most FUD is actually geared toward making the wrong comparisons. Instead of comparing customer needs and dreams to vendor capabilities and roadmaps, FUD focuses on shaded differences between vendor gear. A nonsense exercise.

    Very often what is sold in the field and what engineering suggests are two different things.

    I coach our teams to handle such discrepancies this way: Consider the source of the advice or promise made to the customer. Sales teams are tasked to put their hand in the customer pocket and take money out in exchange for some value. Nothing wrong with this of course, everything I own has been sold to me, and I am grateful for it.

    However, the engineering and best practices documents are written by the people engaged in protecting you, your installation and your data. So if there is a difference in the two things being said, defer to the engineers, and call the sales team out. In fact, they may not be trust worthy and the products might not fit, otherwise, why make stuff up?

    Chris, in the long term, the truth always comes to the top, even if it hurts getting there.

    As for Chad, he comes across as a victim. It really is not becoming of an executive.

  • http://virtualgeek.typepad.com Chad Sakac

    @Chris – I guess on this we’ll have to agree to disagree :-)

    It wasn’t actually Chris Mellor’s article that bothered me, it was the 2nd order conclusions competitors drew and posted (in overwhelming negative comparison style).

    My intent in writing the post (and it reads that way to me, but of course, when you put something on the internet, perception is in the mind of the reader) was to reiterate that:

    1) anytime any vendor does stuff that directly goes after another *** and I note several times throughout the blog post that IMO this applies to me personally as an individual, EMC as a company – as equally as it does to anyone else*** that content is incredibly biased and tends to be negative all round.

    2) that customers should put less than zero credibility to direct attack content (again, IMO).

    Chris, can I humbly suggest re-reading the post, and then look at the title of your post. I’m not saying “you can’t trust what you read unless it’s from EMC”. What I am saying is:

    a) Trust most what you know from your own experience.
    b) Trust next what you hear from non-vendors that you know and trust.
    c) Be skeptical, but listen, when vendors talk about what customers like about them.
    d) Apply a filter, and almost assume a negative posture when any vendor goes negative on the other guy.

    I actually think we’re closer on this topic than you think.

    I’m most deeply hurt that you view my blog as a marketing mouthpiece, but hey, I’ll get over it :-)

    Of the 371 posts I’ve done, in the Jan 2011 window, yup, there was more “EMC” content, but if you imagine the world through my eyes, we’re in the middle of our product launches, so it was pretty all consuming. If you look over the life of my blog, I feel pretty strongly that there’s a good mix of content, but again, that’s not my call – it’s the readers. And if they don’t like it, they don’t have to read it.

    But hey, thanks for expressing your opinion. I’d be curious to know if on re-reading my post my intent wasn’t clear.

    • http://www.brookend.com Chris Evans

      Chad

      As I said in my post, EMC as an organisation is equally capable of producing misleading vendor FUD and inaccuracies, and it’s a bit rich to moan when it comes back the other way. I don’t care what vendors think of each other’s products, I’m interested in why EMC (or any other vendor’s products) would be good for me/my clients. By that I mean real business reasons, not just “it’s kick ass”. Possibly the marketing hyperbole EMC uses is more an American culture thing, it’s certainly not a British one. It’s worth looking at the other comments on this thread and see how they all express disappointment at the FUD wars. I can sympathise with those who have indicated they would actively not choose an EMC product as a customer recommendation, based on the recent marketing strategy and FUD posts. I would struggle not to be biased myself, however it is about the right product rather than the personalities at the end of the day.

      BTW, some of your technical posts are great (especially the earlier ones), however when I get a sniff of marketing BS, I rarely get past the second sentence.

      Chris

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