I’m about to pen a series of blogs about VMware’s vRealize Operations Manager product (vRO), and in the interests of full disclosure, I need to tell you that I’m being paid to do so, and the parameters of this engagement. By now I hope you’re familiar with my approach to disclosure, and I want to explain why I accepted this project, particularly after the other thing that happened a while ago.
I’ve accepted money to write things before, such as at iTNews.com.au, CRN.com.au, some things through GestaltIT, and soon at Forbes.com, but this is the first time I’ve done it here at eigenmagic.com. It makes me a little nervous, but let’s see how this goes.
VMware approached me a few months ago to ask if I’d like to do a review of vRO and compare it to other solutions. The product is very much aligned with the sort of thing I write about here anyway, and getting funded to look at it means I can dedicate a good block of time to it, instead of just whatever spare moments I can find. That appealed to me, because I love to poke at technology in a lab. What can I say, I’m a nerd and will always be one.
The challenge with this sort of thing, and I’m very conscious of it, is that I risk being told I’ve ‘sold out’ and am therefore unfairly biased towards the product, or the company. If I’m being paid, then my opinions are more suspect than usual. These are all fair criticisms.
If I accepted money to look at a product, would I still be able to do a good job of looking at it objectively? Would I be selling out my readers? Would they care about anything else I ever had to say, or would my reputation be forever tainted?
I’m honestly not sure what your reaction will be, but I’ve taken a risk in saying yes to this gig for two major reasons, aside from that money is handy to pay bills: it’s the kind of thing I’d write about anyway, and I have the freedom to write about it however I want.
I’m pretty fiercely independent, as many of you know. I’ve reviewed a bunch of products and companies over the years, more or less in exchange for flights and lodging, a few trinkets (and occasionally nice gear), and some food and drink. Not directly, it’s subtle pressure to write about them, and there’s no requirement that it happens, but there is reciprocity going on.
Lovely as some of these gifts are, they’re useless for paying my mortgage, but everything exerts an influence. I like to think that I’ve chosen to write about things because I find them interesting, and think you will too, not because they gave me a pen with their logo on it.
Hence all my detailed disclosure posts.
Here’s the general deal with my arrangement with VMware to write about vR Ops: I’m being paid for my time in the lab to look at the product, and to produce three blogs about it (this one doesn’t count). The blogs will go up here, and I retain all copyright in them. They’re my words, my opinions, and I will need to stand by them/defend them as necessary. I’m being paid to do a series of tasks, not to have particular opinions. There is an important difference. There’s nothing in the contract that says I’m not allowed to say the product sucks, if that’s what I find. All software sucks. All hardware sucks. All models are wrong, but some are useful.
The money is being paid to my company, of which I am an employee, so in some ways my own company is asking me to write on my blog about this. I get to pay GST on the money, and it’ll get included in overall corporate revenue. This isn’t some under-the-table deal.
I’m using my own gear, and evaluation versions of the software that anyone can obtain from VMware in exchange for an email address. I’m also using some vExpert perks, such as free lab time from RavelloSystems, partly because I wanted to anyway and this gives me an excuse. I’m combining business with nerdy pleasure in some ways.
I’d prefer to do this sort of thing to pay for the site hosting than to plaster ads all over the place, even though it is starting to stray into ‘native content’ (i.e. advertorial) which is something I loathe.
If you think it’s a huge mistake that I’m doing this, then feel free to let me know.
I hope it isn’t, and that you enjoy learning about a tech product that I got to play with.