Objectivity

I came across a blog recently that peaked my interest.  The post was from Nate at TechOpsGuys (http://bit.ly/9PxZQV) and it purports to explain the networking deficiencies of UCS.  The problem with the posts explanation is that it’s based off of The Tolly Report on HP vs. UCS (http://bit.ly/bRQW2g) which has been shown to be a flawed test funded by HP.  Cisco was of course invited to participate, but this is really just lip service as HP funded the project and designed the test in order to show specific results, typically vendor’s will opt out in this scenario.

There were three typical reactions from the Tolly Report:

  • The HP fan/Cisco bigot reaction:
    • ‘Wow Cisco fails’
  • The unbiased non-UCS expert:
    • ‘There is no way something that biased can be accurate, let me contact my Cisco rep for more info’ (This is not an exaggeration)
  • The Cisco UCS expert:
    • ‘Congratulations, you proved that a 10GE link carries a max of 10GE of traffic, too bad you missed the fact that Cisco supports active/active switching.’ Amongst other apparent flaws.

The TechOpsGuys post mentioned above will have the same types of reactions.  Lover’s of HP will swallow it whole heartedly, major Cisco fans will write it and TechOpsGuys off, and the unbiased will seek more info to make an informed decision.

I initially began writing a response to the post, but stopped short when I realized two things:

  • It would take a lengthy blog to point out all of the technical errors, and incorrect assumptions.
  • It wouldn’t make a difference, Nate has already made up his mind, and anyone believing the blog whole heartedly would have as well.

Nate is admittedly biased towards Cisco and has been for 10 years according to the post.  Nate read the Tolly report and assumed it was spot on because he already believes that Cisco makes bad technology.  Nate didn’t take the time to fact check or do research, he just regurgitated bad information.

This is not a post about Nate, or about HP vs. Cisco, it’s about objectivity.  As IT professionals it’s easy to get caught up in the vendor wars, but unless you’re a vendor it’s never beneficial.  Everyone will have their favorites but just because you prefer one over the other doesn’t mean you should never look at what the other vendor is doing.

If you’re a consultant, reseller, integrator, or customer you’re most powerful ally is options.  Options to choose best-of-breed, option to price multiple vendors, option to switch vendors when it suites your customer.  Throwing away an entire set of options due to a specific vendor bias is a major disadvantage.  Every major vendor has some great products, some bad products, and some in the middle.  Every major vendor plays marketing games, and teases with roadmaps.  It’s part of the business.

If a major vendor makes a market transition into a new area it’s beneficial to just about everyone.  The product itself may be a better fit for the customer, the new product may force price drops in existing vendors products, the new product may drive new innovation into the field which will shortly be adopted by the existing vendors.  The list goes on.

Summary:

As IT professionals objectivity is one of our key strengths, sacrifice it due to bias and your making a mistake.  When you see blogs, articles, reports, tests that emphatically favor one product over another take them with a grain of salt and do your own research.

If you have engineer in your title or job role you shouldn’t be making major product decisions based on feelings, PowerPoint, or PDF.  Real hands on and raw data (with a knowledge of how the data was gathered and why) are key tools to making informed decisions.

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Trackbacks

  1. [...] Over the last 4 years I’ve worked in some capacity or another as an independent customer advisor or consultant with several vendor options to choose from.  This has been either with a VAR or strategic consulting firm such as http://www.fireflycom.net.)  In both cases there is typically a company lean one way or another but my role has given me the flexibility to choose the right fit for the customer not my company or the vendors which is what I personally strive to do.  I’m not willing to stake my own integrity on what a given company wants to push today.  I’ve written about my thoughts on objectivity in a previous blog (http://www.definethecloud.net/?p=112.) [...]

  2. [...] Over the last 4 years I’ve worked in some capacity or another as an independent customer advisor or consultant with several vendor options to choose from.  This has been either with a VAR or strategic consulting firm such aswww.fireflycom.net.)  In both cases there is typically a company lean one way or another but my role has given me the flexibility to choose the right fit for the customer not my company or the vendors which is what I personally strive to do.  I’m not willing to stake my own integrity on what a given company wants to push today.  I’ve written about my thoughts on objectivity in a previous blog (http://www.definethecloud.net/?p=112.) [...]

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