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I had this dog. She was a good dog, but she did some things like all dogs do that disgust me. Every time she would get sick, we would have to run to find her and quickly pull her away from the vomit so she wouldn’t immediately lap it up again or the cycle would continue. Now that you are sufficiently disgusted with this behavior…This is the way that I feel when customers tell me that they continue to believe the promises of vendors that don’t deliver. They believe the PowerPoint engineering that are beautiful works of art – but nothing more. They believe the executive promises that they will get it right this time. When are we as an industry going to quit blindly believing what we are told and demand to see it, experience it, feel it, touch it, and break it?

I was presenting at a customer the other day and a short way into the presentation we got to talking about the problems that the customer had in their network. They were most interested in how our architecture and design specifically was going to solve their problems.  This particular customer was interesting as we talked through some of the challenges. You see it appears that they had been sold the proverbial “we will get it right eventually” tactic. I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to hear customers go through years of pain and agony. Years of changing architectures each with the promise of fixing all the things that the previous design couldn’t. Years of forklifting one platform for another because that one has a bug in the hardware or there is a new “Special” ASIC that they need to take advantage of. I even had a customer suggest that they were going to replace a vendor’s custom ASIC solution that had a HW bug with a brand new version of a different custom ASIC versus pushing towards an off the shelf merchant silicon solution. AHHHH – holding my tongue at this point was tough!

The few, the brave innovators of our industry, are willing to take the risk. Unfortunately they are only willing to do that after they have been burnt so many times that they have a learned response to their current vendor. When I walk into a conference room, I look for the most bleary eyed person in the room. That is the poor guy or gal that has to spend weekend after weekend troubleshooting problems, testing code version only to find YAB (Yet Another Bug), and doing painful upgrades in the hope that the next version will be better. They are the soldiers that get burnt out – but they are the ones that often hide the fact that the organization is eating its own vomit. Sure, just like with my dog, I sometimes make it in time to pull it away, while other times I am too late. These guys and gals are the equivalent, they hear that fateful sound of the network having problems and they devote their personal time and energy to fix the problem and limp along another day.  They are the heroes of the business and they deserve better!

In my next post, I will suggest ways that we can all avoid these pitfalls and make our networks better.  Stay tuned for Thursday’s post 🙂

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