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Voices of the People

We at Byte and Switch are used to being told what to do. As we research and report the storage news, we inspire a chorus often a cacophony – of partisan voices telling us what to think and what to write. In response, we've developed thick but porous skins to filter solid information from the drivel emitted daily by vendors, vendors' representatives, and those claiming to speak for end users.

Our experience as reporters is shared by storage customers everywhere, who are challenged to sift wheat from chaff on a daily basis. But unlike online publishers who can modify our mistakes if and when the filters fail, end users have no such luxury. And IT pros' mistakes can quickly land them in the unemployment line.

As detailed in a recent feature story – 8 Hardest Storage Lessons Learned – the roster of fearsome IT events is as varied as the number of IT pros who have had them. It includes picking the wrong vendor; paying too much to solve a problem; failing to solve a problem; losing data; struggling with internal constituents; etc.

These stories weren't easy to obtain. Lots of end users fear speaking out, even in forums where feedback is supposedly welcome. They fear vendor retribution – which comes in the form of brow-beating, shoulder-climbing, trouble at the channel or with other suppliers, or even lawsuits. They fear discipline by their own organizations, which don't want public disclosure of strategy, spending, or vendor selection. Sometimes they simply fear embarrassment.

This kind of paranoid environment is especially tough on SMBs, which don't wield the kind of influence, and hence control, with suppliers that big corporations do.

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