Lets stop the technology snake oil

Posted by on February 25, 2014 in Featured | 4 comments

I’ve read at least a few blog posts over the last six months or so that have just made me scratch my head. People talking up technology that does not even exist or clearly have never touched it themselves. I think as bloggers and technology people we have a duty to customers and others to paint the whole picture.

I’m not sure if people are being paid for things like this and not disclosing them properly or what might be the case. But more and more I see bloggers getting briefings on a technology and taking that hour long call and powerpoint presentation and writing a glowing blog post or review. People your words carry weight and many are respected influencers in the community. I’m sure that you would not tell a friend that the new Ford focus was awesome because you watched a TV show about it.

Personally I take anything a vendor tells me with a grain of salt until I get some personal experience with the product. Performance reports are nothing but pretty lights until it passes my tests or has performed in my customers environments. If you do take performance details provided by a vendor or a paid 3rd party, I think you should clearly explain that you did not test these and they are vendor provided numbers. Many of these numbers are done with marketing in mind, a storage vendor wants to claim big numbers so they do 100% of 4K reads.

I will not write something that does not explain where the information came from. If it was from a briefing I think that should be disclosed, if I do performance tests you will see how it was tested and the results. Full disclosure is the way to live, I’ve seen this talked about before with blogging. This is what lead me to start a new blog that I will not shill here.

I know there are always new products and vendors coming out that sound awesome. Just make sure you are painting the right picture at the moment with the facts that you have. Your readers will respect that.

About Brian Suhr

Brian is a VCDX5-DCV and a Sr. Tech Marketing Engineer at Nutanix and owner of this website. He is active in the VMware community and helps lead the Chicago VMUG group. Specializing in VDI and Cloud project designs. Awarded VMware vExpert status 6 years for 2016 - 2011. VCP3, VCP5, VCP5-Iaas, VCP-Cloud, VCAP-DTD, VCAP5-DCD, VCAP5-DCA, VCA-DT, VCP5-DT, Cisco UCS Design


  1. Excellent post, Brian. I’m a fan of total transparency in tech solutions – here’s how it works, here’s what it doesn’t do, here’s what makes it a great fit for you or here’s why you should maybe check out something else that fits better. Yes we can and should dress it up with stories and sales techniques to help drive the message across, but we should do so with transparency and integrity.

    The market is more than big enough for all of us vendors to exist in and profit from. Adding snake oil and/or FUD into the mix does nothing, frankly, but make the people spreading it look like idiots or worse.

    That being said, the folks out there who sink to such techniques tend to lose and lose hard, often right in front of the customer, and to them I say “Thank you for making my job easier by knocking yourself out of the running!”

  2. first off – I think “transparency” is a myth. Everyone cries for it, no one does it. I honestly don’t think I’ve read a single blog where the blogger outright admits to being a paid shill. They usually throw in something like “I work for VMware/EMC/Cisco/HP/Mirosoft but whatever I say here are my words only and don’t reflect the company….” yadda yadda yadda. Its what Mark Twain called “corn-pone Opinion”. (“You tell me whar a man gits his corn pone, en I’ll tell you what his ‘pinions is.”)

    I don’t take any marketing shill for their word, and *most* bloggers are just parrots. however I will say that I do not read the ones that are upfront about their chicanery…. so I guess the only way to get readers would be to constantly give quality accounts/statements/reviews/experiences or lie about them. they will weed themselves out, eventually.

    • @Sketch sounds like you are advocating or encouraging that bloggers simply continue to play the game of hiding what they might be doing vs. being transparent about it, granted the transparency disclosure may be a game or judging a book and its content via its cover as opposed to its content?

      I personally take the disclosure route and do that right up front so people known and can then choose to right up front stop reading any further vs. going a few pages in, or waiting until the end to make a disclosure. Sure it results in some not choosing to read who simply judge vs. if somebody discloses or not, however I prefer to be transparent about and let people judge the content, message and perspectives. Otoh, there are vendors who prefer to work with bloggers/analysts/pundits/media and others who do not disclose, likewise there are those who do not disclose because the believe or know that people wont access their content if it has a disclosure. Funny how that all works…

      I concur with you though that sooner or later playing games and having lack of substance or actual experiences catches up, in fact its quite easy to detect when you get somebody into a live or ad-hoc situation and they have to improvise vs. leverage their knowledge/experience….

      Hope all is well, cheers gs @StorageIO

      • Good points guys like the discussion.

        I personally differ on many fronts with what my employer might think on different topics. But that is a work vs personal separation that I don’t have a problem with.

        There is definitely a list of people that I read and respect, also others that I meet and have a lot of respect for and then others that are great to talk shop with but you question their angle.

        But for customers that do not build these relationships and go out searching for information I suspect get fooled some times. I guess its not different than trying to read the reviews on Amazon to figure out which ones are real.


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