The difference in vendor demos

I’ve attended no end of vendor demos over the years, and some stick in your mind for different reasons – A NetApp demo at a University campus. This was a great demo with a good account team, but the use of the word ‘tetris’ does start to bug you after a while. A Packeteer demo on site where I worked, where the tech tried to tell us that their product could reduce the latency between Europe and North America. No amount of explaining that you simply cannot change physics like that would convince them otherwise

An unnamed vendor who, no matter how many times you re-phrased the question, were unable (or unwilling) to answer how their storage arrays replicated data 🚩

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How to win friends and influence people

Sometimes I’m in a position to influence decisions. I normally base my opinion on the technical detail of a solution, and how it fits current and future business needs. But recently, I’ve realised how much the approach of the sales team comes in to play.

For example, Pure Storage are a joy to work with. They have a very strong product set which very much fits the needs of the business I currently work at. They’re easy to engage with as a company and an account team. We have approached them previously to ask for a solution to a problem, and they have been honest in excluding themselves from the running as the products they have weren’t a good fit. Wonderful. I believe in credit where it’s due, and am receiving nothing for saying this.

Then comes Rubrik. I have never contacted them. In the past 9 months, they have e-mailed me 18 times. 9 times in the last month alone. They have offered to pay me just to talk to them. That feels shady – Your product should speak for itself. How good is your product if you have to pay people to listen to you?

Sometimes I’m in a position to influence a decision, someimes I’m not If I’m ever in a position to influence vendor selection for any product Rubrik sell, I’ll try my hardest to ensure they’re not in the running. You’re never the only vendor available.

KPIs and SLAs – More important than outcomes?

Some time ago I was working in a vSphere role and I got an escalation through about an unexepcted reboot of a host. Sure, we all encounter a PSOD if we’re unlucky. They’re certainly not a normal occurace, and it’s a stop screen where the default config doesn’t result in a reboot. I started looking at the logs, vpxd.log, hostd.log, vpa.log, and so on. There was no indication of any failure. The logs just stopped, then re-started when the host was booting up.

That’s neither normal nor expected. No problem though, keep looking and something will show up. I had a look at the host SEL to see if anything showed up. The host had been rebooted by a user in a different team. Problem solved.

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Why are we slowly heading back to inaccessibility?

When the pandemic hit businesses, understandably, panicked. Suddenly the majority of the workforce was remote, and that was a new thing to a lot of companies. How do you manage staff when they’re not sat at a desk you own? How do you know people are working if you can’t see them?

Zoom, WebEx, Teams enter stage left. For me, Teams has been a revolution – You can have a text chat with someone, turn it in to a phone call, a video call, a screen share with no real effort. Wonderful. Collaboration should be this easy, and in 2020 it was.

Industry events that used to be in-person only were suddenly, and hastily, thrown online. Yes, thrown. It’s different to put on an event that is online than one that is held in-person, and a lot of the first events I attended didn’t have time to re-assess how to deliver their content. Those events were painful to be honest, but it was new so nobody is really at fault.

There were a lot of clunky handovers from speaker to speaker, all waiting for the another to give the signal they had finished speaking / it was your turn to speak. There was a surprisingly large number of backgrounds that featured guitars, too.

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Do we want to solve problems, or say we’ve solved problems?

I saw the above tweet the other day. It’s fairly amusing, and later I saw a few imply it was the process solution implemented as a result of the Facebook outage on 4th October 2021.

It resonated – How often do we implement solutions without solving problems? How often is a process introduced (‘Do not unplug’) that makes no attempt to solve the underlying problem (Whatever cannot be unplugged).

All too often we focus on implementing a solution without taking a step back to ensure it actually solves the problem. If we ignore all the bad stuff we can only talk about the good stuff, right? A report that’s all green is better than a report that has red on it, right? All that matters is the report, right?

Ostrich management never ends well.