Hiding documentation ... will they never learn?

One of the best presentations we had last week during the Net Field Day 2010 was given by Doug Gourlay from Arista. Their products have numerous highly interesting features; Terry liked their use of TDR and I was particularly delighted by the VM Tracer and decided to write about it as soon as I find some time (read: today).

2012-09-29: To keep the record straight: a few months after I wrote this blog post, Arista made most of the EOS documentation available online (as of today, it's latest version only, with no release notes).

Finding the marketing presentation was easy (just ask Google), but I wanted to have some more hard facts and tried to find product documentation. The link to the documentation in the support section was very obvious, but access to it requires registration (grumble, grumble). To add insult to injury, once I’ve registered, I found out that only users with valid support contract can access documentation. I just stared in disbelief; I couldn’t imagine someone taking this approach in the 21st century.

Next I tried to find a backdoor. I’d already downloaded virtualized copy of vEOS and the registration message (yes, I’d had to register then as well) contained link to some initial documentation ... but even that link was broken. I truly appreciate receiving a complex piece of software with ZERO documentation (11-page quick start guide doesn’t count). That’s a definite bonus when I try evaluating whether I should be using a specific product in my network.

Greg Ferro wrote at length what HP should do if they want to establish themselves in the networking market. It looks other vendors are no better ... apart from an exception that just happens to be a market leader in numerous segments. Looks like they might be doing something right.

17 comments:

  1. Last week: tried to get documentation from Alcatel and Huawei. No success, please login.

    Seems to be rather common practice

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  2. Good feedback Ivan. Let me see if I can get this opened up.

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  3. Ugh, I hate that. Of course, Arista is certainly not without company.

    Thank you again for the excellent talk, Doug. And I'll second Ivan's plea. :)

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  4. Ugh, I hate that. Of course, Arista is certainly not without company.

    Thank you again for the excellent talk, Doug. And I'll second Ivan's plea. :)

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  5. Dmitri Kalintsev25 September, 2010 00:44

    AFAIK, Juniper always had their documentation in the open. But then again, for a very long time their stance was "we are everything Cisco isn't" ;)

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  6. Not everything that Juniper does can be categorized like this. Juniper genuinely thinks different without regard to Cisco.

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  7. In this particular case, they obviously followed Cisco's good practices ;)

    As Andres said, Juniper does what they think is best.

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  8. Dmitri Kalintsev25 September, 2010 11:11

    > Juniper does what they think is best.

    Aren't we all? ;)

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  9. Now that you put it in perspective, it does sound like a round circle ;)

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  10. Let's be serious, they are probably hiding the documentation so Cisco does not get hold of it and use it to pick their products apart.

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  11. You can buy their gear online, directly from their web site. How hard would it be for a competitor to use a dummy company and buy a few boxes?

    Wake up to reality. Hiding documentation will never stop your competitors, it will only hurt your sales.

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  12. Riverbed does the same as far as I remember

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  13. AFAIR, Huawei has guest-level accounts that can access most of the docs. At least in Datacom product line.

    Quick check says that datacom section is now open (mostly, no software, no doc cd bundles) even without registration.

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  14. Brandon Carroll01 October, 2010 19:50

    Gotta agree with Ivan and Stetch. Doug got us all excited..and I appreciate that. Now with some documentation we can make use of what we learned.

    Thanks Ivan and Doug.

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  15. A lot more Arista documentation is available online now to John Q.Public

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    Replies
    1. Absolutely true. Wrote an update. Thanks for reminding me.

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Ivan Pepelnjak, CCIE#1354, is the chief technology advisor for NIL Data Communications. He has been designing and implementing large-scale data communications networks as well as teaching and writing books about advanced technologies since 1990. See his full profile, contact him or follow @ioshints on Twitter.