Sysadmin blog Last week was the hardest time in recent memory for me. My best friend of over a decade, a feline companion by the name of Prometheus, has just passed away. While such a personal event might not seem relevant to things technological, it has served as something of a focusing effect for me.
Trying to think through the haze of grief feels almost Sisyphean. I want to curl up in a ball, hide under the desk, and never come out. I stare blankly at my inbox, my mind reading the words of press release after press release but not really understanding their context.
There are literally hundreds of press releases, blogs, articles and alerts I am supposed to catch up on to make up for the past week's worth of time I've taken out to be with my friend during his final week. I have a to-do list that is too many items long, half which is the creation of more meaningless word salad to feed the incomprehensible and unfeeling tech marketing machine.
99 per cent of this technotripe drowning me in its self-serving inanity can be filed into two broad categories. The first (and by far most populous) category of technotripe is the endless string of pointless announcements about irrelevant and arbitrary milestones in the development of some product that, quite frankly, nobody gives a damn about.
The second category of technotripe is an internet nerd fight between some dude who thinks he's all that and some other dude who manufactures controversy as part of his day job. (I honestly can't think of the last time I saw one of the ladies get into these internet pissing contests, hence my use of "his" here.)
The more you write this stuff – or about this stuff – for a living, the easier it is to lie to yourself and pretend that any of it matters. The more time you spend in forums, the easier it is to forget that the shrieking masses of textual debutants is far, far less than one per cent of any given publication's readership. Perspective – even if focused by personal tragedy – is important to cling to.
Dear storage industry: shut up
I don't know how I ended up writing about storage. Somehow over the course of the last few years, it just happened. It was emphatically not planned. I loathe storage. I'm a sysadmin who has spent most of his career working for poor people and that means that I have seen too many storage solutions go horribly wrong. Data loss scenarios are my nightmares. I have learned to fear sleep.
When hyperconvergence started to become a thing, I thought the concept was fascinating. Done right, it could solve a lot of problems for me and mine. Scale out storage, software defined storage, storage gateways VVOLS ... all the neat storage stuff to come out of the past seven or so years of storage wars sounded like it would finally put those night terrors to rest.
Along the way, integration of SSDs became a thing. Hybrid storage, all-flash, you name it, SSDs were added to the storage mix and things got faster. How much faster? Ludicrously faster. So much faster than spinning rust arrays that – and I cannot emphasize this enough – unless you are running some really edge-case stuff, the performance numbers do not matter.
Let me be perfectly, crystal clear here: the number of people on the planet who care about the fact that your storage widget is five per cent faster than the next guy's storage widget and are in a position to sign cheques and buy things can probably be counted on one hand. The entire storage industry remains obsessed with speed long after literally everyone right down to Synology can provide speed that is "good enough" for the overwhelming number of customers.
SSD go fast. This is not rocket surgery. If I see another press release about an internet catfight regarding just how much beyond "more than fast enough" some bit of overly expensive rubbish can go, I think I'll lose what's left of my mind.
I pick on the storage industry and its obsession with "speed" in large part because of the prevalence in my inbox, but it is by no means the only culprit.
There is a belief amongst certain tech PRs that every minor version release needs to have a press release. Every single company on earth seems to need to send me 15 e-mails and some dogged attempts to get me to talk to some irritatingly non-technical marketing wonk about some product's next version.
In almost every case, the changelog for the version the PRs are banging on about boils down to "fixed some awful bugs that never should have made it past QA in the first place and changed the interface to make even less sense than it did before." I don't care. Not as a writer for various tech magazines, not as an "influencer" (sigh) and, most critically, not as a sysadmin.
Does this new version of whatsit get my nerdself all perky and focused? No? Then why in the name of Jibbers Crabst do you think I want to write about it? Why do you think my readers want to read about it?
Why are you having your "community managers" churning out 20 blogs a week about how phenomenal the hot new version is if you don't even have to roll out an engineer in your analyst briefings to explain all the things that changed?
As an IT practitioner, I care about what solves my immediate problems. As a data centre architect, I care about choosing products and services that will ensure my practitioners have to do as little firefighting as possible over the course of this refresh cycle. As a business owner, I care that what I am being asked to spend money on is an investment that results in either increased productivity or cost savings that are higher than the amount I am investing.
If you want to crow about a new version of your product, explain how what is new in this version actually matters to one or more of those roles. You don't get points for ruining the UI in an attempt to remind people you exist. We just hate you a little more for wasting all our time on that crap.