I don’t care about the topic of debate, really, since I’ve never personally used MetroCluster. I have used NetApp SnapMirror, sync and async, EMC BCVs, SRDF, EVAs and their data replication. And a bunch of other solutions to the same basic problem. Here’s my summary:
All hardware sucks. All software sucks.
The devil, as always, is in the details.
Tone is Vital
What I found most interesting was the way the debate/flamewar took place. As I mentioned to Chuck Hollis: when you’re criticising someone or something, tone is vital.
If you’re going to criticise something, particularly when you have a vested interest in that criticism (as all vendor criticism of competitors does), you need to be particularly careful about how you say things, not just what you say.
People don’t like to be told they’re wrong, that’s just human nature. If there’s a vested interest, your comments are automatically suspect.
This may not be fair, but it doesn’t make it less true.
How To Lose a Sale
This idea was driven home to me recently at a conference (NetApp Insight last year, in the interests of disclosure). I went along to a presentation on sales, and learned something I wish I’d learned years ago.
Don’t argue with the customer about decisions they’ve already made.
In this context, it was about competitor’s kit they already owned. Would you tell a prospective customer they were a total bonehead for buying a competitor’s gear instead of your own, vastly superior gear (obvious, because it’s yours. I mean, duh)? “What kind of moron would buy from company N when their gear has flaws x, y and z? Didn’t you know that?”
“Gee. Thanks for pointing that out. Yeah, all my reasons for making that purchase are idiotic on their face. Thank God you came along to sort me out Mr. Vendor. I guess I’ll take a hundred units of whatever you’re selling. Cheque ok?”
You’re insulting the very people you want to buy your gear. Does that sound like a smart sales strategy to you?
The tone of much of the criticism of MetroCluster felt like it was insulting those customers who have bought the product.
Maybe they had perfectly good reasons for not choosing something else.
Maybe they did know about all these apparently awful flaws, but didn’t care, or it wasn’t important in the larger view, or they had mitigation strategies in place.
Or maybe they don’t agree with you that they are flaws?
Jim/Calvin may have some valid technical points (I’m not going into it, as I’m no expert), but I think they missed the mark in the tone they used.
And the other vendors missed the mark by joining in a petty point-scoring pile-on. I’m not the only storage customer turned off by those sorts of antics, regardless of the vendor doing it (and you all do, sadly).
But hey, maybe there are customers who like that sort of thing and you can sell to them instead.
Constructive criticism is hard, and I’m no expert. I’ll see if I can write up some quick tips on what I’d prefer to see from a vendor’s critical review of a competitor’s product. I think it would benefit the whole industry if we all try to lift our game, yeah?