New Game, New Rules…

It's no secret that I've been on the customer side of the vendor relationship for a long, long time.  Through relationships with HP, Microsoft, Liebert, GE, McKesson, EMC, Cisco, VMware and many, many others I got introduced to the competitive world of "vendor management" back in the late 1990s, and learned how the game was played.  For the most part, every vendor was polite and respectful to their competitors, with the caveat that they all felt like their solution was the best.  Every company had different strengths that they played to, and every rep had a different personality that colored your interaction with them.  At the end of the day I felt respected by my vendors, and I felt like there was some modicum of respect between the vendors themselves.

In some ways, the respect that competitive vendors showed one another was a sign of their competence; the more you trust your offering, and the more you believe in your product, the less inclined you were to be hysterical or dishonest.  I, as a customer, appreciated and valued the way that my vendors interacted with each other.  As a service provider, I had to deal with many vendors, sometimes together at the same time, and I couldn't have been successful without them understanding how to act professionally.  In the end it was good for me, good for MY customers and good for my relationship with the vendors themselves.

With that as backstory, I'd like to point out how completely unprepared I was for the onslaught of FUD and nonsense that NetApp and the people in their orbit have been putting out pretty much non-stop for the last two weeks.  It amazes me how disrespectful some of the comments have been, and at some of the messages that are being sent.  I am a hyper-competitive person, so I understand the base instinct, but this is not how I've been taught that professionals act.  I could see this behavior from the rank-and-file, sure, but to see it from higher-ranking leadership is disappointing.  On the flip side, I've been amazed at the restraint that has been shown by the EMC and Acadia/VCE teams overall, even if I don't understand it.  There's so much ammo that could be used to offset the pure misinformation and in some case purposeful lies that are out there, and mostly the team has taken the high road and let the products and customers do their own talking. 

I need to find out whether I'm comfortable letting this nonsense pass over me, or whether I need to respond.  I need to find out where the line is.  I need to find out if our customers and the market are better served by having us ignore or simply point out the FUD or by actively refuting it.  I understand it's a new game, I need to learn the rules.