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March 12, 2010

2.045: fud-slinging reaches new lows

OK, let me get this out of the way right up front: I am an experienced practitioner of using embarrassing facts about competitive kit to promote Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (aka FUD).

Nolo contendere.

Were I to contest the charges, my only defense would be that I try to leverage only fact-based FUD. I research my facts diligently, often enlisting the assistance of fellow bloggers to verify my facts before I post them. I fully allow comment and feedback on my posts, and I am swift to acknowledge my mistakes whenever I get the facts wrong. I will not argue that my intent is to provide fact-based cause for readers to consider flaws and risks that competitors all too often try to hide, ignore or disguise.

In my mind, "FUD" really should be an acronym for Fact-based Uncertainty and Doubt. Unfortunately, the use of facts is apparently not a staple for some representatives of EMC's competitors. Indeed, it seems more and more of them are resorting to Making Stuff Up (MSU) as the basis of their FUD.

The Secret is in the FUD! One example of blatantly Making Stuff Up has been going on for the past several weeks. EMC account teams have encountered a sudden flurry of prospect inquiries as to the quality and reliability of Symmetrix V-Max. While such requests are not atypical for a new product (and EMC's Corporate Quality Team are always able to share the facts with customers upon such requests), it seems that many of these inquiries are being instigated by representatives of a certain three-letter-acronym (TLA) competitor as part of their sales playbook.

But this isn't the usual "the product is new and has no track record" kind of competitive FUD you might expect. Instead, this particular FUD attack leverages a table of metrics these unscrupulous TLA sales teams have been providing certain prospects during the sales process. TLA sales claim this table lists quality issues attributed to V-Max in "August" and "November" (year unspecified). Apparently limited to deals going on in southern-hemisphere non-Americas geographies, this table is frequently presented to prospects (as a GIF file) along with assertions that there were a lot of problems porting from RISC-based processors to Intel processors.

Hogwash!

I am here to tell you that the table itself is a total MSU fabrication, bearing no traceable attributes to connect it to either EMC (nor to it's actual source). More importantly, the data within this little table is entirely made up, and the categories of issues it lists bear no resemblance to the actual metrics that EMC uses to track reliability, availability and quality of its products.

 

tce trumps msu (trust me on this)

At EMC, and particularly within the Symmetrix Division, Quality is taken very, very seriously. As a key component of EMC's Total Customer Experience initiative, the EMC pro-actively and continuously monitors a  broad range of quality, reliability and availability metrics on every single Symmetrix in the installed base. There are weekly cross-functional TCE meetings to assess every single reported issue, from the supply chain, to the manufacturing plant, through shipping and installation, to daily operation at the customer site. These TCE teams looks for trends and exceptions, with the specific aim to identify and rectify problems before they even arise. EMC is probably the only storage company that tracks every individual component and every system they were installed in (by lot and serial number), just in case there is ever an issue with a particular lot of parts, sources or assemblies. Indeed, every assembly and component is serialized just so such issues can be traced and pro-actively rectified.

Since its introduction V-Max has experienced the highest levels of field reliability of any new generation Symmetrix in history. And that's by design, mind you. Quality is high, customer adoption is brisk, and market share is growing. And while V-Max does indeed represent architectural and processor changes from prior Symmetrix generations, it is hardly a "port." Rather, V-Max is a tightly integrated system, carefully engineered to the highest quality standards with a near-maniacal focus on data integrity, performance and ease-of-use. On this foundation, the Q4'09 V-Max software update adds FASTv1 and a bevy of other new features, and V-Max customers will enjoy even more enhancements and new capabilities throughout 2010.

This is why I can assure you that this table being passed around by TLA representatives is counterfeit. It bears absolutely no resemblance to any of the reports EMC uses to monitor or track issues, and the data in it is totally (and maliciously) fabricated. That this table is being distributed as a GIF file and bears no specific reference or linkage to EMC or V-Max is a blatant clue that this is nothing more than a red herring.

IMHO, there is no justification for Making Stuff Up like this…

Don't get me wrong – I'm not accusing any competitor of waging a corporate-endorsed smear campaign here. And in light of V-Max's clear competitive advantages, I guess I am not even surprised that competitive individuals and account teams would stoop so low as to fabricate damning data against V-Max in an illicit effort to compensate for the shortcomings of the products they sell.

But that doesn't mean it is OK to MSU!

Admittedly, the competitive nature of this industry can drive people to inflate the truth from time to time, but it seems somehow to be increasing in volume and frequency. For example, Chad Sakac recently called out a competitor's blogger for a rather exuberant bout of Making Stuff Up about how their product was servicing a specific need with an unbelievably small configuration – inflated claims that the person in question later recanted. I too have commented numerous times about bloggers at two of EMC's TLA competitors and their running legacy of factual inaccuracies about Symmetrix for several years; unfortunately at least one continues to post blogs riddled with fabricated misrepresentations of Symmetrix even to this day (well, yesterday).

By the by, I'm sure that none of these companies support
or condone the use of falsified information by their employees
or representatives – for any purpose. I know EMC doesn't.

And indeed, FUD doesn't need to be built on MSU to have impact. Conversely, fact-based competitive challenges perhaps aren't really "FUD" at all. I do believe that customers welcome factual competitive insights – many have written me publicly in appreciation of the factual perspectives I have provided through this blog over the years.

IMHO, both Bloggers and sales reps alike can (and should) take the time to get the facts right and then to stick to the facts. No matter how tough the competition, how heated the battle, how intense the pressure to win deals and make goals – often with little or no support from corporate – I believe we should all strive to employ real, rational and verifiable facts.

Inarguably, our words have far greater impact (and value) when they are truthful and accurate.
 

Courteous comments welcomed, of course. And yes folks: I know Mr. Kettle very well.
 


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