December 19, 2012
I worked for and with a CEO at one time who I really respected as a person and as a business leader. There was one particular habit he had that never quite sat right with me, and that was wanting to publicize the technologies that we bought into some kind of marketing release.
Now, I like marketing as much as the next sysadmin. OK, that's a lie - I actually don't mind doing marketing. The problem is that he always wanted to publicize the really mundane purchases that we made. His take was, "we just spent thousands of dollars on new servers; lets try to get some return on them".
I'm not sure that he really understood that the return was what the servers did, but I suppose you can't fault him for trying to get some marketing. The issue was that we weren't exactly buying world-class anythings. The biggest infrastructure migration I did involved replacing the entire server stack with recently EOL'd 1955 Poweredge Blades...not exactly something that you want to advertise, but the company was used to a shoestring budget, so paying $40,000 for two blade chassis full of machines, plus our first SAN storage array plus a new database server plus a (1) fibre channel switch may have seemed like a big deal on the CapEx line, but my boss and I did as much as we could to assure him that it wasn't.
I was thinking about that situation not too long ago, and it occurred to me that the whole time I was downplaying the technology we used, I should have been talking up what we did with it. I'm not going to say I was cutting edge, but there were a few years where the service uptime was significantly above 4 9s, and I know of at least one where it was 5 9s. Granted, I'm not saying it couldn't have gone down, but it didn't. Ex post facto, you can declare whatever uptime you actually achieved.
The marketing line shouldn't have been "we use worldclass hardware" (because we didn't, and couldn't claim that), it should have been "We do amazing things with technology", which was true, because we did.
Am I alone here? Has your company ever asked you for pictures of the racks and information to do marketing with? How did you handle it?