Thursday, September 28, 2006

Storage at 6,400 feet


Last weekend at Mt. Rainier.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

What two storage bloggers talk over lunch?

Obviously, blogs and storage! And today my lunch with fellow blogger Josh Maher at Coho Cafe was no exception. I had great time talking to Josh about blogging and storage industry. I look forward to continuing our conversation.

He is a messaging and storage expert at EMC and maintains an active personal blog Messaging ... Technology ... Life .... Now I know whom to ping next time I have an Exchange or DMX question.

I am surprised that companies don't involve in-house bloggers before starting a company blog. I guess it's a case of "ghar ki murgi dal barabar." [an Indian saying meaning "things at home are rarely appreciated"]

We talked about the Puget Sound Storage Networking User Group (PSNUG). I used to be a regular at Toronto SNUG. I hope to see PSNUG becoming as active as TSNUG. But, it is very difficult to have an active user group without vendor support.

He also told me about Blog Business Summit in Seattle next month. I never attended a blogger conference before. But now I am wondering maybe I should attend one of these conferences. As I am interacting more with blog community, I am realizing that its time for me to start considering myself a storage blogger instead of storage professional who blogs. Nah! I am a cheap Indian so most probably I will chicken out in the end.

September is turning out to be "Meet Storage Bloggers" month for me, first Jeremiah and now Josh. It has been interesting shift - meeting fellow storage bloggers instead of non-blogging storage professionals, startup founders, managers and executives.

Open invitation to all bloggers in storage and IT infrastructure industry - whenever you are in Seattle, let's meet.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

EMC steps in to Blogging Ring

It is great to see that finally EMC has stepped up to the plate and joined the blogging world by enabling half-hearted Mark Lewis to blog.
The Marketing folks wanted me to do it but, like many companies these days, I just figured this would fall into the legal abyss and never come out. ... Its not that I didn't want to Blog.
Someday, we will have battle of the blogs between storage vendors. Hopefully, Mark will show more commitment to blogging than Diane Greene at Vmware.
Tip #3: Put up a long-winded introductory post and then leave your blog alone - isn't it enough just to be able to brag that you have one?
It is interesting that both Dave Hitz at NetApp and Mark Lewis at EMC have comments disabled on their blogs. So far apart, but so alike. Why are they so afraid of having conversations in public with their blog readers?
Tip #1: Don't allow your visitors to leave feedback of any kind - after all, you wouldn't want them making fun of you; you had enough of that in high school!
Kudos to Hu Yoshida at HDS to embrace the blogging spirit of conversation by enabling comments.

As Mark doesn't allow comments on his blog, here is one question for him:
Is this a corporate Blog? NO. ... As my one disclaimer, I guess EMC does pay the monthly fee for the site (I hope I don't get taxed).
EMC is paying for your blog. You are going to write about EMC. Then, you are claiming it is not corporate blog. So what is your definition of corporate blog?

Monday, September 18, 2006

Pitch something worth talking about!

While I was thinking and researching about pitching to bloggers, Eric Sink wrote an interesting post on similar topic, How to get people talking about your product. Here are some quotes from his post that resonate well with me.
Begging bloggers for links

In the last couple years, the most popular way of trying to generate word-of-mouth marketing is a two-part strategy that looks like this:

1. Make a list of all the top bloggers.
2. Send email to them and ask them to mention your product.

This won't work.
I agree with Eric statement. These tactics are very similar to bombarding journalists with press releases, how effective are they?
Instead, focus on a smaller group

The better approach is far less intuitive, but far more effective:

1. Find a Very Small Group of People that share common interests
2. Build a product that 100% of them will love

And most importantly, when your product does ship, you will have set the stage for buzz and word-of-mouth to happen. If your product is so perfectly designed to delight your customers, they will be dying to talk about it.
This may be the answer to my curiosity why am I being pitched (See, Why pitch to me?). I belong to a very small and niche group of data storage bloggers and readers demographic includes mostly people interested in data storage technology, products and services.
Build a product that is worth talking about

People don't talk about products because somebody asked them to. People talk about products because they're interesting. They talk about products they love.

The first step in getting people to talk about your product is to have a product that is worth talking about. Design something insanely great. Think about the folks in your Very Small Group of People, and build a product that they will love so much that they can't keep quiet about it.
This is the key to getting me to talk about you, your company, product, technology and idea. As a niche blogger, I am more likely to talk about something that will interest me irrespective of someone's relationship status with me. Relationship only guarantees you that I will read or listen to your pitch but only thing guarantees you coverage is whatever you are pitching is worth talking about.

You are more likely to succeed if what being pitched is innovative, at the cutting edge and pitched correctly. Asking me to highlight minute technical differences between you and others wouldn't get me out of bed to write a blog entry.

Hint: IMO, the best technology innovation to happen in data storage industry since SAN is Data De-duplication, and next in line, is Grid.

Final words from The 9 Most Important Words for Business Bloggers
A gifted product is mightier than a gifted pen.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Relationships generating blog content, huh?

Continuation from Why pitch me?

Initially, I was humbled that someone thought my opinion may be of value to someone else so they were pitching to me. But then the pitches started increasing in volume and repetition.

At that point, I figured it may be helpful to write a post on how I can be coaxed in to writing about you, your idea, your product or your company. But I wasn't sure how to approach this topic. So I decided to initiate email conversation about it with Jeremiah Owyang, someone better plugged in the blogging world. His initial response led me to research further:
I think common sense is the best way to do it, and remember that the bloggers are in charge. Not sure if a policy or rules of engagement are needed. Guy Kawasaki and Scoble have discussed at length 'how to pitch to a blogger.'
Jeremiah also mentioned in his follow up reply and blog entry about building relationship before pitching. From my research, it seem that most bloggers are advocating building relationship before pitching.

It appeared counter-intuitive to me. Relationship is typically required for trade media journalists and industry analysts so that they eat your pitch and regurgitate in their reports and articles. Am I being considered an industry analyst or trade media journalist? Hope not!

For me, blogging is a creative outlet and a way to building new relationships with like-minded industry professionals. I never thought of relationships (paid or unpaid) providing content for the blog like they do for analyst reports or trade articles.

Yes, relationship will get me to read your messages or listen to your pitch for few minutes, but it will not necessarily get you the coverage on my blog. BTW, I read all messages regularly irrespective of who sent me except messages on subscribed lists. So, if not relationship then what can get me excited to write about you, your idea, your technology, your product or your company? Now the cliffhanger, I will discuss this further in my follow-up post.

Relevant Links:

How to Suck Up to a Blogger

Don't Be a Bad Pitcher!

Tips for Pitching Blogs

Pitching to Bloggers: For 2.0 Involvees

How to Ruin Your Corporate Blog: 100 Tips by 10 Bloggers

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Why pitch to me?

Recently, I started to get requests from technology vendors, PR reps and others asking me to pitch their company, products or ideas through my blog. Initially, I was surprised by these requests considering the narrow focus and few readers of my blog. I am just not sure what to make of such requests considering the limited reach of my blog compared to the blogs of high profile widely read bloggers like Guy Kawasaki or Robert Scoble or even those of well known and influential industry analysts and trade journalists like Mario Apicella or Steve Duplessie.

One person who pitched to me responded to my query about their objective of pitching:
A couple things - first, I'm hoping that you might see this ... as an area to write more about on your blog, given its importance to the .... Also, I wanted to bring your attention that there are issues with ... of these solutions that some vendors out there aren't being completely forthcoming about - for example ....

Again, just thought it might be a topic of interest to explore on your blog. If so, I'm happy to put you in touch with ... if you like.
I welcome your opinion and thoughts on this topic. How do you feel about reading 'pitched' stuff?

BTW, I had interesting conversation on this topic with Jeremiah during my visit to HDS HQ. I will discuss this further in my follow-up posts.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

HDS Visit & Lunch 2.0

Last Friday, during my visit to Bay Area, I had the pleasure to meet Jeremiah Owyang. He was very gracious to host me at HDS Executive Briefing Center. I am sure lot of people, including myself, were half-expecting that HDS will even want to talk to me, let alone have me as guest on their premises.

Thank you Jeremiah for the great lunch and equally great discussion (more in later posts). I can only imagine the challenges and efforts required to encourage an organization in a conservative-to-the-fault technology sector to adopt progressive Web 2.0 tools and strategies like blogging, wiki and public forums. Hats off to you. My bad for considering you HDS Blog Manager. How does HDS Web 2.0 Evangelist sound?

After reading the coverage of HDS Lunch 2.0 by you and Robert Scoble, I feel I missed a great event, a chance to interact with fellow bloggers and learn the infrastructure challenges of Web 2.0 companies. Thank you for the Lunch 2.0 T-shirt and Hitachi poster.

Whenever you or any blogger from data storage and IT infrastructure industry are in Seattle, please let me know. I will be happy to meet over lunch or coffee and discuss data storage, blogging and anything in between.

Included from comments:
Thanks, Jeremiah for the link to the Lunch 2.0 video.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Career move to Entrepreneurship - IEEE Webinar

Just received a note from a fellow IIT alum. An interesting and useful Career Accelerator Forum by IEEE and Webinar for those looking to make move to Entrepreneurship or Computer Science.
A Must-Attend Event for Career-Minded, Tech-Science Professionals!

Are you looking for a career move into entrepreneurship or computer science? At the Autumn 2006 Career Accelerator Forum from IEEE Spectrum Online, on October 12th, industry experts will tell you what employers are looking for, how to match your training and skills with the best jobs, and how to leverage work experience and credentials to your advantage. You will also be able to network with career specialists and higher educational institutions in our online forum. To register or learn more, please visit: http://www.spectrum.ieee.org/caf