Locked away on PowerLink

Warning:  This is a bit of a rant!

I was reminded again today, while reading Storagezilla , that the storage world we live and move in is a secretive and paranoid world.

Disclaimer:  I am not an EMC basher.  The following is typical of most big storage vendors.

Apparently EMC has a “must read” security related article hidden behind lock and key on their PowerLink site.  Now there’s a surprise, a major storage vendor with some interesting literature and its locked behind closed doors.  Anyone wanting to take a look has to be a paying member of the exclusive club as well as being familiar with the correct handshakes.

Im trying to imagine why companies do this……  I imagine the meeting where the decision was made went something like this –

Big Cheese:  “I’ve been told it’s an excellent article that puts our strategy and leading technology across very well.  All in all a must read!  So what should we do with it?” 
Thought Leader:  “We could put it out there in the wild by hosting it on www.rupturedmonkey.com , in the sponsored whitepapers section, so the masses can read it and see how great we are… and may be we may even win over a few folks in the process.” 
Big Cheese:  “Steady on there son, Im not sure we’re ready for a revolution like that.  I know, we’ll hide it on our secure site where only the existing faithful (a mere handful comparatively speaking) have access to it.

So why do the big vendors do this?  If I was them and had something good to say I’d want as many people to know as possible.

I used to wonder if this practice was some kind of attempt to combat industrial espionage by keeping the companies technological secrets away from the prying eyes of competitors.  But I’m pretty sure that if the competition was really interested, they could easily arrange a PowerLink account and get their eyes on such materials.  In fact, if the competition are any good I’m sure there is not much that they don’t already know about your products. 

On a tangent, may be its just my over active imagination, but I’ve always assumed that EMC have a secret air hanger where they keep a comprehensive stock of the competitions kit that they pull apart and occasionally stick pins into.  And of course the same applies for the competition (straying way off course…… can you imagine the HP guys in their secret air hanger pulling apart a HDS box and screaming “Get the company lawyers!!!  Those damned HDS guys have ripped off our XP hardware!!! Its an exact clone!!!”).

Anyway, I don’t know, may be they do it to try and improve service to “paying customers” and give the impression that you get treat better and have access to  “inside” information.

Whatever the reason, the fact is that I don’t have access!  When I tried with my PowerLink account (I’m not a paying EMC customer) I got an “Access Violation” message and now I’m wondering if the EMC “heavies” are going to be paying me a visit!  Seriously though, as a result I wont be able to tell anyone how great the document is and how great security in EMC products is.  And I don’t just mean talking about it here on this site -

A week or two ago, Peter, an old boss and now friend of mine contacted me and asked if I would take a look at, and give my opinion on a comparison document that his regular equipment supplier had put together in an attempt to win some storage business.  Because I was such an outstanding employee when working for him ;-) my opinion went a long way and he ended up buying what I recommended, although Im sure cost as always came into it as well. 

The thing is, I wasn’t able to give positive comments for one vendor because I'm no longer a user and couldn’t find any decent up to date information to help me brush up and on which to base any opinions.  And that’s just one recent example of where keeping information away from me (joe public) has hurt a vendor.  And for the record, I get asked similar things all the time.

Sure you can always go and ask your vendors sales guys about it and they will tell you how great they are, but then who believes a salesman?  After all, they’re getting paid to say how great the company and its kit is.   In the previous example with my old boss, I'm sure my opinion counted a lot because of my standing with him and the fact that I was completely impartial, not standing to profit from whoever won the business.

Anyway, Im going to stop now other than to say that Ive been reliably informed recently that certain people inside EMC are looking to review access restrictions to technical information and forums etc, opening them up to the wider public.  A good move in my opinion and I am already in the line waiting for the gates to open and wish them good luck in this move should they carry through with it.