So, are there any independent bloggers? Really?

There was some weird backlash against my site and my person recently – see here and here and in the comments here. Chuck Hollis got all uppity about whether I work at NetApp (with, for) or not.

I find it interesting that this only came up when I wrote something pro-NetApp. Wasn’t even anti-EMC.

It never came up when I was extolling the virtues of RecoverPoint (which I still think is awesome). I didn’t see anyone from NetApp or any EMC competitor start questioning where I worked, where the full disclosure was etc etc. Maybe they all just assumed I worked for EMC. Well – not directly, I was selling a ton of EMC gear, which was in turn paying my mortgage, which is as good as. But, ultimately, I just like the product since, properly deployed, it can solve some real problems.

So why is NetApp the company everyone loves to hate? Is it fear? Disrespect? Lack of understanding? All the above? But, I digress. NetApp customers love the product, and the company’s recent earnings announcement, as well as the fact we sold 1 Exabyte of enterprise storage last year, tells the real story. The People want their highly-functional, space-efficient, simple-to-use, application-aware storage, not 50 different products that are loosely integrated. Volkslagerung! Is that right, German-speaking readers?(edit: Volksdatenspeicher seems better as “storage for the people”).

So, I clarified things in the About page (upper left), I thought it was already clear but apparently not. Chuck is still not satisfied, so I think I’ll have to figure out a way to show some fancy animation of me in some NetApp uniform, hugging Hitz, Lau, Georgens and Mendoza and receiving my MVP award. Plus another animation showing the super-secret initiation ceremony and the extensive branding on my left buttock. Right.What was most interesting in this ad hominem attack was that the important discussion topics were largely ignored, a very efficient tactic to lure the unsuspecting reader’s mind away from the real issues.Which brings us to the subject of this post.

There seems to be this cute, romantic notion that there is such a thing as a truly independent blogger, and if I’m not independent, then what I say is tainted.

Well – let me break it to you and disabuse you of this notion: There ain’t no such thing as an independent blogger.

We are all biased, one way or another, about everything. Our past experiences shape our biases and the automatic stories our brains will create to explain any information we are presented with.

It doesn’t matter whether we work for a storage vendor or are customers – indeed, customers are typically among the most biased IT folks around! (storage vendor employees are usually crusty, jaded, cynical, have been around the block and typically have the dirt on multiple technologies).

I’ve been in customer meetings where I was told the customer doesn’t ever want to talk to EMC again because they treated him badly 10 years ago, or that he doesn’t want to talk to NetApp because he read in Barry’s blog that it only has 30% usable space, another that has FC queuing issues with HDS gear and wants to get rid of it at all costs, yet another that has had some controller panics with IBM gear and wants to get off of that and never touch IBM ever again, the list goes on. Those guys become zealots.

Then you have the other customer type, the one that receives Rolexes and other cool gifts in order to say whatever he’s told to say. Some actually will demand it (I’ve been in one of those meetings, too – “if you give me your watch we may have a deal”. I chose to assume he was kidding, lest I completely lose my faith in mankind).

You then have your “analyst” type that’s an independent industry “expert” – most of those guys haven’t touched the products they’re writing about, ever, and are just rehashing whatever they read in other publications or are told by their vendor drinking buddy. Yet they’re among the most trusted and read. They, too have their personal favorite horses they’re backing…

Finally you have your VAR bloggers. People – those guys make money selling the stuff. Yes, they know the tech, but don’t exactly expect an impartial discussion-  plus, they get all kinds of incentives from vendors.

So, who do you trust, when you can’t even trust yourself? Since, by definition, you are also biased, gentle reader…

I wish I could tell you. Ultimately, everyone has an agenda, whether conscious or subconscious. You just need to become shrewd enough to see through the agenda.

Maybe a good starting point is a truly intelligent, fact-based discussion bereft of ad hominem attacks?


8 Replies to “So, are there any independent bloggers? Really?”

  1. For what it’s worth – I think it is possible to be even handed – even when working for a vendor. I try (fail consistently, but always try).

    I think a VAR is more likely to be even handed, and customer is the most likely to be even handed.

    Passion, I understand. Love for a product or a company (when in a different league than love for family/friends) – hey I understand that too.

    Hatred, I don’t.

  2. Thanks Chad. What I will say is this: a customer has more POTENTIAL to be even handed.

    One might argue that a vendor always has the agenda of pushing their product.

    One might also argue that, theoretically, since customers have no such agenda, they are more likely to be even handed as you said.

    The point of my post though was that the basic human condition is that we’re biased for pretty much anything and that everyone has an agenda, whether they realize it or not.

    I’ll grant you that customers typically don’t realize they do 🙂


  3. I have to declare that I am a NetApp employee (so I dont feel someones wrath!)

    Dimitris.. I always enjoy your posts. Keep stating facts, back them up, and call ’em fair!

    Today your blog made me laugh out loud..

    and to be fair to the EMC people.. you make me laugh too! 🙂

  4. Hey Dimitri

    All I was looking for was a short identifier that “you work for NetApp now”. The tattoo, video, handshake, etc. — well, that would be up to you now.

    Don’t underestimate the importance of full disclosure — not only on an ethical basis, but on a legal one as well!

    And — yes — no one is truly independent. We all have our biases. Better to disclose them and let people judge for themselves.

  5. Hey chuck,

    If you think that the technical facts which were listed on the blog were incorrect, then please contradict them with corrections. I think that is what the analyst blogs are all about. Do you have any thing to say on Dimitri’s comments??–-is-variable-block-better-than-fixed-block-and-should-you-care/#comment-262

    Please don’t digress readers with your stupid dumb comments about “disclosure” should’s.

  6. Seriously Chuck…get over it already.

    You and a whole crowd of 1 or 2 others (probably also from EMC) claim they didn’t know Dimitris worked for NetApp. As much as you’re playing it up, I’m not even sure I believe that you didn’t know. I wonder if you weren’t just looking for a way to divert attention from the real issues and discredit the guy.

    Your veiled legal threat and charge of unethical motives are ridiculous. Don’t underestimate the importance of not making yourself look petty.

  7. Dimitris, just stumbled across your blog while looking for information on RP. This blog post hit home for me, I manage a team of storage engineers for a large financial institution and grow weary of the vendor blogs that invariably focus on ad hominem attacks when their logic is challenged. Vendors need to learn that they should just be upfront with the good,bad,and ugly because if I find out the bad and the ugly (and it happens sooner or later)after we buy your product you can bet you won’t get my business again.

  8. Since someone else says they trust VARs let me say I do not (necessarily).

    Case in point: up until about 6 mo. ago this Boston based VAR we use primarily for networking support couldn’t push DataCore hard enough when we told them we were looking at getting a new SAN. We kept telling them….go away we don’t want any of this Windows S***! Now they are having sex with Dell/Equalogic and you can guess what they were pushing hard at their latest customer interaction event in Gillette Stadium.

    I wonder how their latest partner sits with HP since they are HP Gold. 😛

    Oh yea, all their staff is on commission including their highest paid CCIE engineers. So caveat emptor and always follow the money!

    I suppose I could trust a VAR, but most of them like to display these partner status logos (gold, platinum, shmatinum) all over the place. That is pretty much an immediate disqualification (or at the very least grounds for a highly discounted view) of any advice they give.

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