Wednesday 23 December 2009

A Christmas message

So it's been a pretty crazy year all round - with more work than I can cope with, lots of travel, 2 months unable to drive for various reasons, lots of new learning, many new products & technologies, plenty of new challenges, good friends and great times with the family. And of course a whole new grumpy blog :)

I'd like to do a roll-call of friends & colleagues, and of the key events - but sadly in my old age I know I'd miss something or somebody out, so rather than that I'll simply like to paraphrase Helen Steiner Rice and say :-

At Christmastime our hearts reach out
To friends we think of dearly
And checking through our friendship lists,
As all of us do yearly,
We stop awhile to reminise
And to pleasantly review
Happy little happenings
And things we used to do,
And though we've been too busy
To keep in touch all year,
We send a Festive greeting
At this season of good cheer.
So Christmas is a lovely link
Between old years and new
That keeps the bond of friendship
Forever unbroken and true

So I'll raise a glass of fine Tactical Nuclear Penguin and say :-

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

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Monday 21 December 2009

Dilbert - spot on as usual

As usual Dilbert so perfectly sums up a lot of customer / supplier relationships :-


Sunday 13 December 2009

Show Me The Money! (information)

Just a short entry today re a some points to take into account if you're ever (un)lucky enough to be trying to sell anything to me, yes that includes technology, products, services, change or ideas :-

1) I expect you to have done your homework on my company - understand my current suppliers, current products, scale, locations, press releases re plans, priorities & focus. If you don't do this, arrive unprepared, arrive late, arrive at the wrong location or spell the company name wrong then don't expect me to pay full attention.

2) Product positioning, definition, differentiator to other products and overall reason for existence - if you can't explain these points to me in 6 slides and 15 minutes expect to go no further. In effect I expect to be presented with at least the internal pitch made to justify the product's creation. Assuming you manage to do this, I also need to get a clear understanding of when / where this product should & shouldn't be used, and compared to other products from the same supplier. Lastly I expect a clear comparison to other vendors products with a strengths & weaknesses competitive assessment.

3) TCO / ROI / CBA - Total Cost Ownership, Return On Investment, Cost Benefit Analysis are the bywords for technology evaluations and procurement. You are expected to provide customer editable models for your products and suggested architectures, including the assumptions and process/org context these models have been built for. Where you don't know input values relevant to my business then use & identify industry averages for me to edit & refine.

4) I'm not interested in free-of-charge trials, loan equipment or evaluations as sales devices - if you can't sell & prove the value case without this then please hold your breath for an hour and we'll carry on after then... Should you manage to prove value, then I may, at some point in the future, wish to want to validate certain things with either customer reference visits or witness tests in your labs - at your cost.

5) Please understand that any form of change costs money - this will always be factored in to any decision made.

6) A feature does not make a product or a company - look around the IT graveyard and you'll find lots of companies that tried to break this rule. I am VERY unlikely to change product or supplier as a result of a single feature - useful & valuable features will become free-of-charge hygiene factors common across the industry soon enough.

7) I try and measure value & cost over 7 years (to include ingress, usage & egress), not this month's discounted deal - accepting this will be longer than your likely sales role with supplier, please understand you will be impacted by your predecessors sins of the past.

8) I'm more interested in partnership and quality people & relationships than transient discounted deals - trust and credibility is earned through honesty, actions, delivery, quality & consistency.

9) Understand that your sales forecasts, quotas, commission, priorities, timelines, financial period ends etc are of absolutley no interest at all to me

10) Understand that I'll contact you when / if I'm interested or able to - I'm often very busy and if you continually chase, harass me or phone me out of work hours then you'll drop down the list faster than a lead balloon.

11) I make our standards process very clear. If you attempt to avoid or subvert the standards process in any way (including with mngt manipulation, FoC offers,avoiding the truth or clandestine work) then expect your company to be removed from my engagement lists in totality and permanently.

12) If you use FUD or hype expect me to publicly challenge you - also expect me to validate anything you say using me own methods & sources. If you continue expect our relationship to get difficult.

13) I need electronic copies of any & all materials discussed or presented - no exceptions, without this I can't use it as reference material in my internal strategy planning. If you hide behind "it's beyond NDA", or "NDA prohibits" then I'll interpret that as "you don't trust me personally or respect me professionally" and the relationship will be difficult from then on.

14) If I give you questions & actions (and I will, likely lots of lists of questions) then please ensure you deliver upon them or things won't progress well

15) My company is global, I need you to be and to able to map to our account structure requirements globally - service, support, products need to be globally available directly and we need empowered global SPOCs with partners

16) Good enough is good enough - the world is about fit for purpose rather than best of breed or ultimate performance nowadays, let us make the decisions re performance or resiliency by providing all the information

17) I expect industry open performance benchmarks for each product / technology - even if you don't like or believe in them allow me to interpret their use, value, accuracy or relevance.

But most importantly, if you do take the above into account, we will have a good relationship, I will be a loyal customer and together we can do lots of business... And I'll even buy the beer :)

Sunday 6 December 2009

UK iSMF - The hidden jewel

To the music of

In the late 1990s a crack storage admin unit was sent to a data-centre
by senior mngt for a issues they didn't create. These men promptly
escaped from a maximum security site to the UK underground.
Today, still wanted by the vendors, they survive as admins of fortune.
If you have a storage problem - if no one else can help - and if you
can find them - maybe you can contact : The (storage)A-Team.

The best way to contact this shadowy group is via the "UK Independent Storage Management Forum" - with an online presence at

If you're in the UK, a storage customer, and want to meet like minded storage admin peeps then sign the NDA, request to join and get ready to contribute on a 2-3 times per year basis...

If you're a vendor or reseller then you certainly can't do sales / marketing pitches - but, if you're lucky, maybe you can engage with the team to review your product, give feedback and sort your RFE & roadmaps...

[Disclaimer - the forum used to have facilities & logistics funding (repairs to the team van, all the cigars & gold chains costs you know!) and assistance from EMC (I'm currently unsure) - but certainly no sales pitch or content control]

[Double disclaimer - my terrible time & diary mngt has meant I've been a very underground figure for too long in this forum]