My old boss Steve Duplessie wrote a blog called "Transparency and Me" basically setting the record straight on some negative feedback he received from an industry blogger that goes by the name of StorageMonkeys. I like Steve and StorageMonkeys and have been watching their thumb wrestling on their blogs and in Twitter. At first I didn't feel that Steve should have even written the blog - he really didn't need to but then after some thought I changed my mind. I have a
similar problem - I am being personally attacked by three EMC bloggers and I want to set the record straight and provide my perspective on the situation.
(Update - I do not compare the situation between StorageMonkeys and Steve D to how the EMC bloggers attacked me. My only point is that Steve felt compelled to explain himself and what he does.)
I started my own company back in October of 2008 in one of the worst economic climates in our history. I had thought long and hard about what I wanted to do and then jumped in with both feet. I didn't want to go back to being an analyst although there was a big pull for me to do so. I was very successful at it but there were two things stopping me - I didn't want to compete with my former employer and friends at ESG - and it ultimately was not what I wanted to do with the hours in my day. I also didn't want to go work for a vendor - although there were offers there too. I realized that I NEEDED to do my own thing.
One of the first things I decided was that one part of my business would be consulting. Part of the services I would provide would include blogging. I am a pretty good writer and blogger and felt that I could help the mission of my clients by performing this service. The three clients I blog for include Data Domain, Digital Reef and Hitachi Data Systems. I picked these three clients because I like the companies, the products and the people. I could have picked more - because there are other vendors that fit within this criteria but I just didn't have the cycles. I did a bunch of research on being a professional blogger - and the general consensus was that this was fine and that there are now many professional bloggers. The key was to be up front about it - which I have been.
The anti-social media gang at EMC - three individual bloggers - Chuck Hollis and Barry Burke and the other guy that calls himself Storagezilla - have all attacked me personally. They have done this in a number of obvious and non-obvious ways - the most crude among these are accusations of me "pimping my services" and of being an "industry streetwalker". Yes - they actually said these things.
It would have been fine if they challenged my opinions and ideas and statements but they were not content to stick with that. Instead they have attacked me personally. Anyone that knows me knows that I don't stand for that kind of crap. And I warn all three that if they ever see me in person I am going to challenge them to say these things to my face and then we will let the chips fall where they may. Well - except for Barry - I don't want AARP coming after me in defense of one of their members.
On some level you might interpret their vitriol as a way to quash my voice - to discredit me as a credible contributor to the "opinion" and "analysis" of the storage world. I know they feel threatened that my voice added in support of their competitors can hurt them - so instead of actually debating me they prefer to try and discredit me. These are known tactics that are well worn and predictable.
Let me make it easy to understand so even these three morons at EMC can comprehend: I am a consultant and I work for my clients in order to drive forward their missions. I provide them insight, ideas, feedback, information and an outbound voice. I decided not to write reports but felt that I would blog for them - using a more modern and accessible method to communicate my views and opinions. Yes, these are my views and opinions and no one edits them.
EMC hires consultants and industry analysts to do the same for them - so EMC's hypocrisy isn't subtle in any way, shape or form. But it goes even further than this...
The EMC bloggers will tell you that they write their blogs in their "spare" time and aren't paid to do it. Which is of course a load of crap. If EMC wasn't giving them a paycheck would they spend hours and hours a week writing all their positive bullshit about EMC? There is zero balance in their content and it is clearly a part of the EMC marketing and PR machine.
All three spend hours and hours not only on their blogs but writing comments on other blogs, Twitter and message boards. Even if we still worked within a 40 hour work week - they would already be lying about using just their "spare" time. However, in this day and age - there is no work clock - you are always on the clock. To say that they are not getting paid to blog is disingenuous and hypocritical. They are either lying or are too stupid to know that they are getting paid by EMC to blog for EMC. Let me make it clear to you three - all you are is corporate hacks that will say anything to promote your company because they give you a paycheck.
If you look at the "dialog" that Chuck and Barry have with other industry players - you see how petty and ridiculous both these men are. This is their legacy - and it is full of ugliness and pettiness. What are the marketing people at EMC thinking? What is Joe Tucci thinking? This is the kinder, less arrogant EMC? These guys epitomize the "old" EMC. Arrogant. Greedy. Self-serving. Is this the kind of culture that Tucci wants the world to know that EMC has? Meet the "new" culture - same as the "old" culture.
The powers that be at EMC should spank these three. Picking a fight with me is a "no win" situation for EMC. They can't hurt me - their attacks just make me more attractive to every single one of their competitors. Don't get me wrong - I didn't have an issue with EMC - until these three attacked me more than once personally. Their treatment fuels my fire and I am a fiery guy. And I hold EMC accountable for everything these three have said to personally discredit me and harm my business.
There is no dishonor in being a consultant. In fact I am writing a book on how to be a successful consultant. In these economic times there are probably a bunch of unemployed professionals out there that could use a little advice on how to be a successful consultant.
And I must humbly profess that I am proud of this little company I started. In these bad times I started with nothing and in just a few months my business is doing very well.
I am doing a bunch of exciting things - I recently created a new service called Voice of the Customer that is doing very well. I have hired some outsourced engineers to do some software development for one of the product ideas that I have. I am working with a friend and colleague of mine on another software application I want to develop - we are in the early stages of designing it right now. I am on the advisory board of three emerging vendors. I hope to publish my book on consulting this year. I am working on an exciting business development project. And there are a couple of very stealthy things I am doing that I think are very compelling. And I am happy with the work I am doing for my clients as a consultant and blogger.
Additionally, I am using my spare time to train and raise money for the Avon Walk To Fight Breast Cancer. It is a 39.3 mile walk - 26 miles the first day and 13.3 miles the second day. If you are interested in donating please go to this link - My Avon Walk Page.
I remain undeterred and actually am now more driven than ever to fight back against these industry bullies.
In a recent article from Chris Mellor - "Circling Storage in vSphere" - he discusses new functionality provided by VMware that is similar to thin provisioning features provided by storage system vendors. He muses - "How far down the storage array controller application stack will it go? To the point that all you need is a virtual storage array controller in ESX looking after just a bunch of disks (JBOD) in an enclosure?" VMware will inevitably provide more and more functionality typically found in storage systems. At the same time they will continue to improve and optimize how they work with existing storage systems. It is unlikely in the short term that VMware will render storage systems obsolete. VMware has a long way to go before they are a real threat to the storage players as a direct competitor. However, as they add new storage-oriented functionality they may soften some competitive differences between storage systems. For example, VMware's new thin provisionish feature conceptually could give a storage system vendor without thin provisioning an answer to a customer that wants this feature. Now before the thin provision guys argue that their technology is better - or that it is different - I admit that I haven't really looked into this new VMware technology and have no idea how good it is. The point is that you can expect VMware to continue to add more and more of storage features. And these capabilities will continue to mature over time. Additionally, VMware must and will continue to make 3rd-party storage systems work better with their software because it is in their best interest to do so. Therefore, VMware will walk the thin line of competing and cooperating with the storage vendors pretty much forever. Both parties have no choice in this matter. However, storage is complex and sophisticated technology and there are all levels and types of storage. I believe there are some smart people that know storage at VMware but it is not a part of their core DNA. If they do have grand plans to conquer the storage world - as Chris speculates - they have a long, long way to go.
I love when big things happen in IT. I was excited at the idea of IBM buying Sun - that acquisition just made a ton of sense. Of course, they both probably would have screwed it up in reality but on paper it looked good. Sun is a complicated beast and there are only a few companies that can fully comprehend it. There was some talk of Cisco buying Sun but as powerful and smart as Cisco is - they just are too far afield from Sun to add any real value to taming the beast. Why did Oracle buy Sun? According to Ellison - "Completely integrated computing systems, running Oracle and Solaris, should be even more successful and extremely profitable." The key is "integrated computing systems" - I take this to mean that they are going to provide fully integrated solutions from applications, OS, server and storage end-to-end nicely wrapped with services. Again, sounds compelling and valuable on paper but it only considers one aspect of the Sun beast. Here are some things to ponder: 1. Oracle is a software company and although Sun has a lot of software - it sells lots and lots of hardware. In fact, Sun has the model of giving away software to sell hardware. Personally, I think its backwards and the folks at Oracle probably think so too. Software and hardware are two very different animals in practical go-to-market ways and in emotional philosophical ways. If Oracle wants this merger to be successful they need to transition from a software-only to systems-oriented consciousness. Either that or shed the hardware (more on that later). 2. And let's remember that Sun has more than just server hardware - they have lots of storage stuff including TAPE libraries - all that stuff they bought from STK for a boat load of money. Tape is about has "hardware" as you can get. 3. Turn up the professional services while your at it. 4. Sun is a "beast" because of its wide range of products, services, divisions, mix of software + hardware, OEM agreements, varied pricing models, dysfunctional management and culture. Oracle is much more "pure" because of its focus - but that has now been instantly changed. With one action - Oracle went from being hyper-focused to becoming a beast themselves. When you buy a beast - you become one - not the other way around. 5. Oracle and Sun both don't play nice with VMware - either they come out with something competitive or they will be left out of the biggest and most important aspect of today's data center. 6. Oracle is now a competitor with HP and IBM as a total solutions provider - or could be. Can they be cooler, smarter, faster and more efficient than their competitors? Their best-in-class application and database software could give them an amazing edge. 7. On paper Oracle got a great deal for Sun. They get a ton of customers, revenue and intellectual property - they even get a bunch of cash. Oracle's press release stated the following - "The transaction is valued at approximately $7.4 billion, or $5.6 billion net of Sun's cash and debt. We expect this acquisition to be accretive to Oracle's earnings by at least 15 cents on a non-GAAP basis in the first full year after closing. We estimate that the acquired business will contribute over $1.5 billion to Oracle's non-GAAP operating profit in the first year, increasing to over $2 billion in the second year. This would make the Sun acquisition more profitable in per share contribution in the first year than we had planned for the acquisitions of BEA, PeopleSoft and Siebel combined". 8. The good news is that Oracle seems to be pretty good at acquisitions - the bad news is Sun is one of the worst at it. This isn't meant to beat up on Sun - but there is no question that this company could have been so much more than it is today - and the reason for that is due to bad management. Yes, few have ever accomplished what Sun has BUT that obviously just isn't good enough. Sun needs better right and left brain leadership - it needs to get over its engineering-driven culture - throw out dysfunctional bureaucracy - and lose the arrogance. And that is just to get back to par. If they want to rise to new heights as a part of Oracle - that will take true inspiration and perspiration. 9. Oracle stated that Java was one of the main reasons they bought Sun according to their press release - "Java is one of the computer industry's best-known brands and most widely deployed technologies, and it is the most important software Oracle has ever acquired." That is a powerful statement. Will Oracle absorb Java and Solaris and sell the rest? Or perhaps they can spin off a company that just supports the Sun hardware. They probably won't do either of the above "tomorrow" but it might be a smart long-term strategy to consider keeping the 'baby" and throwing out the "bath water". Don't get me wrong - I like hardware but Oracle is a software company and should probably stay that way. Personally I like this move just because it is bold. Do end users care? Right now I think Sun customers just want to be able to protect their investment in Sun without disruption. If this merger turns into more value for customers over time - so much the better.
Greg Duplessie is driving an interesting and valuable event called the Business Development Networking Event. I am definintely attending (that may actually turn people away from coming) and there are several other industry folks that I know will be there. This is the first event of its kind focused on the storage and data management industry. Here is the summary: "Our mission is to create a compelling and inexpensive business development and networking event for industry insiders – one that focuses on networking and building relationships and that does not require exhibiting or catering to end-users. The networking event will provide educational speaking topics, as well as significant time available for your own meetings as you see fit." The idea of the event came from an astute observation by Greg that a large number of vendors, analysts and press folk attend different storage trade shows to all talk to each other. However, the pricing for these shows is expensive. Therefore - why not just create an event that focuses on business development that is cost effective? There are a number of major vendors going to this event. Go to the link above for more details about it. I want this event to work - because it makes a ton of sense. It is taking place June 8-10th at the Hilton in the Boston Financial District.