When bad press really is bad press

There’s this saying that there’s no such thing as bad publicity. Although I do agree that the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about (Oscar Wilde), this does not really apply [IMHO] to bad press in a commercial environment. And we had a text-book example of that this week in the Datacenter Infrastructure market; StorageReview, a well-respected publishing company, released a blogpost why they would/could NOT publish a review on a specific Nutanix solution.

Is the truth out there?

I will not go into the specifics of the article and I’m not even that interested in whether all the facts are true or not. For me the interesting part is on the business side of things. Here are a couple of questions to ask:

  • Did StorageReview have the right to publish this?
  • How does this affect business?
  • Did Nutanix make a mistake in the whole process?
  • What’s next?

1. Did StorageReview have the right to publish this article?

The opinions on this go different ways. First up is Vaughn Stewart (who’s never afraid of throwing some punches himself) and took it from the business ethical side; “I believe that whatever occurred between StorageReview and Nutanix should have been remained confidential.” I initially agreed with his statement for two reasons;

  • Ethically it really does look like throwing punches and kicking someone that is lying on the ground.
  • It could harm StorageReview’s own business into new accounts that would be afraid of being exposed like that.

Bu then came along my other friend Howard Marks, of whom I know he has pulled reviews in the past due to not agreeing on the end-results, and had a more balanced view looking at the viewpoint of StorageReview; “The StorageReview team wears the journalist hat … when things look bad on a product I’m reviewing as a journalist I would write a bad review … as a private test lab we would just not publish or say anything” and he leaves us with a brilliant quote about the essence of being a good analyst:

You can trust every word a good analyst tells you, however there might be much value in the fact we’re not saying something.

So in the end I have to agree with Howard; if this was not a paid review and SR is acting as journalists, they have an obligation to their readers to give their objective story about their experiences with any product/company. There may be a couple of things I would have written differently or left away but simply saying “we didn’t come to an agreement on the test results” was indeed not sufficient.

2. How does this affect business?

BIG TIME! I’m sure the entire Nutanix field sales team and their resellers are pretty pissed off now. Every single customer in every single deal for the next couple of months will get this article in a PDF from at least one of the competitors. I’m not saying they will lose the deal over it, but an article like this increases the mistrust customers have anyhow facing a new vendor.

Why is this article different? It’s the first time as far as I can tell that an independent organisation publicly addresses performance issues on a Nutanix platform. So far this has only been rumours and FUD from competitors. They probably can get around with it in the hands of a PoC (Proof of Concept) but it will add a lot of extra effort from the sales team to demystify these rumours.

3. Did Nutanix make a mistake in the whole process?

Hell yeah! Again; whether or not the rumours will prove to be true or false in the end, the people in charge of this project failed to understand the true impact of influencers and public relations. You simply cannot get away anymore with bullying a journalist. If it takes a journalist 6 months to be that patient with you and you still fail to understand that the writer usually wants you succeed, you have failed at your job.

Apparently the story is not unique as fellow writer Trevor Pott already pointed out on twitter; “Opinion of @Nutanix bottoming out, as I’m seeing similar crap from them on my end”. This adds belief to the story of StorageReview not being a hoax from the writer. More examples over the last couple of years on Nutanix’s general behaviour tend to lean that way too.

4. What’s .next?

There are 2 general ways to handle bad press: first there is the possibility of ignoring it and over time this will go away, hoping not a lot of people have seen it. This is what you do when a smaller competitor punches up for example. Because they don’t really have a big following it sometimes can be contained by ignoring. This is IMPOSSIBLE here. Within less than 24hrs the article had over 500 shares, a couple hours later 700 and by the time I woke up this morning it was shared over 1300 times. It is safe to assume that by now everyone has read or copied the story that it will never really go away.

[edit: I just had note from the StorageReview team that they are already over 19.000 reads within 36 hours, eyeballing 500 reads per hour growth since the story is going viral through other platforms like The Register]

Secondly there is the option to write your answer. This what you usually do when a competitor tells blatent lies in public about your product or company. We’ve seen the latest battles between Nutanix and VMware on that as examples. However: in this case any answer written by Nutanix representatives will be read as propaganda and will work the opposite way of the intention.

In my opinion the ONLY way out here is through StorageReview. Be humble, own it, talk to them and leave nothing on the table for them to review your products on their terms! It would be nice of StorageReview if they altered the post with a new short intro that issues are being discussed if Nutanix chooses to do so. After all, as I mentioned a couple of times; this is NOT good for sales!

As a newly appointed Head of Marketing this one going in my books as a text book example 😉

Related articles:

StorageReview: Why we don’t have a Nutanix NX-8150 review
The Lone Sysadmin: Three thoughts on the Nutanix & StorageReview Situation
The Register: Nutanix digs itself into a hole … and refuses to drop the shovel.

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Starting a User Community – what platform to choose?

If your company’s tagline is ‘joint innovation’ and being ‘as close as possible to the customer‘ is your goal, a user community forum seemed to be the very least I had to get in place as head of marketing. Our TrendMiner product is now exactly 1 year in beta going from v0.1 to v0.6 today. In order to make sure v1.0 by the end of the year / early 2016 is top notch, I think it is the perfect time now for the customers to start talking to each other and directly to our engineers / product management.

The best product is not the one you wanted to make, it’s the one your customer wants to use.

Continue reading Starting a User Community – what platform to choose?

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Marketing in Stealth Mode

Three weeks into my new role as Head of Marketing at D Square it’s time to share my first experiences and findings. First of all I have to say that I’m extremely grateful for the experience. In all my previous roles and opportunities I have been mostly on the execution part of marketing strategy. This time it’s on me to build it from the ground up. Continue reading Marketing in Stealth Mode

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A New Challenge


Today I started a new challenge. It’s quite fair to say this could count as the start of the IV-th episode of my career. The first episode was a couple of years in the graphical industry as DTP-operator and Project leader in a Signage company. The second episode would be where I entered the IT world, working for VARs (value added reseller) as Systems Engineer, Implementation Consultant and TeamLead. In episode III, I primarily created technical marketing content or represented vendors at events.

Continue reading A New Challenge

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Influencer Marketing for Dummies

What the hell is this new buzzword Influencer Marketing and who is that Influencer here? Haven’t we had enough self-labeled titles? Heck I even call myself a “datacenter specialist” on my LinkedIN profile. What’s a specialist anyway? While I do agree that self-labelling is a weird thing, it’s worth looking at the bigger picture.

Continue reading Influencer Marketing for Dummies

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New Awesomeness Feature on my list – from Meraki

I sat through quite an amount of vendor pitches. From time to time it’s the small things that differentiate the company and show you their true culture. I keep a list of these small features that have enjoyed me over all these years and I’m ready to share some of them with you.

Make-A-Wish button

The last feature that has been added to my list is the Merake Make-A-Wish button. I first saw it on their presentation for TechFieldDay at Cisco Live in Milan. It’s basically a button at the bottom right corner of EVERY SINGLE PAGE of the User Interface (UI) where you can request for a feature or UI change. It is:

  • NOT a form
  • NOT a phone call
  • NOT an E-mail
  • Just a button that opens a text box!

Continue reading New Awesomeness Feature on my list – from Meraki

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All-Flash is changing your hardware support

A couple of weeks back at Episode 29 of the In Tech We Trust podcast we talked about the the failure rate of flash drives. Apparently, when handled by smart controllers, it is far less likely than we would think. Some DMs with Vaughn Stewart (Chief Evangelist at PureStorage) later we came to the following statement:

The failure rate of flash drives at PureStorage, 2.5 years after GA, is less than 10 in 1000’s of deployed drives.

This is a truly impressive number. It also helps understand why SolidFire announced “an unlimited drive wear guarantee valid for all systems under current support”. (source: The Register)

The Rebuild

Having a failed disk is not necessarily an issue. We have failover mechanisms for that. The problem is the consequenses of rebuild time. First of all there is the risk of double failure since we put extra stress on the disks for rebuilding parity. That’s why we have created double parity solutions (RAID6). Secondly there is a significant performance drop since both the controllers and the disks are ‘busy’ working on that rebuild. This resulted in up to 24/48hr of keeping your fingers crossed.

Does this still apply for all-flash systems? I mean, isn’t a flash drive exponentially faster than a hard disk? Let’s put it to the test, shall we?

Continue reading All-Flash is changing your hardware support

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The IT Hulk thoughts

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