Breaking News: I’m a Vendor Shill

Got this comment on my Network Automation RFP Requirements blog post:

Looks like you are paid shill for Brocade based on the quote earlier in your blog "The Pass/Fail information included below was collected to the best of my knowledge with extensive help from Jason Edelman, Nick Buraglio, David Barroso and several Brocade engineers (THANK YOU!)."

Hooray, one more accolade to add to my list of accomplishments. And now for a few more details:

The quote from the blog post

When I started putting together the blog post I reached out to people who have more operational experience with certain gear than I do. If you follow them or listen to my podcast it’s not hard to guess why I contacted Jason, Nick and David.

I also contacted few friends who happen to work at Brocade because:

  • Brocade made huge improvements to NOS network automation functionality in recent releases;
  • I wanted to check whether they’re still missing as many functions as I remembered from the time I’d been doing the Data Center Fabrics Update session.
I’m pretty positive I gained no friends @ Brocade with that blog post, and I still haven’t received any money (or even tchotchke) from them, so I must be a virtual shill ;)

Totally Irrelevant

The real reason I contacted friends @ Brocade and not at $SomeOtherVendor is because I lost contact with many engineers I knew at $SomeOtherVendor.

Likewise, the real reason I wrote about Juniper’s OpenConfig support when I did is because a friend who happen to be working at Juniper was kind enough to send me an email saying “hey, this is now shipping”.

Interestingly, the email came from a friend and not from their Product Marketing or Social Media Experts. The only contact I have with those people is when they complain after I write about their use of marketing grammar.

Finally, I know I’m usually missing some recently-shipped goodie and always fix my blog posts if someone points out my omissions. However, I got no information from $SomeOtherVendor saying “hey, you missed feature X shipping in version Y, here’s the documentation URL” that would prompt me to update that particular blog post. You can see most of what I got on the original blog post.

Make your own conclusions.

Back to topic

While talking about vendor shills… you might have noticed that I stopped doing sponsored webinars, probably at least 2 years ago (too lazy to check). They were too much hassle (until you tried it, you have no idea how annoying it is to get registered as a $vendor’s supplier), and I always had a bit of integrity problem – while I tried to stay as neutral as possible, it was hard to stay completely unbiased.

On the other hand, I invited numerous vendor engineers I trusted would focus on technology and not on vendor message to be presenters at my webinars. These engineers came from (in alphabetical order) Arista, Avaya, Cisco, Cumulus Networks, and Juniper.

To be fully transparent: David Gee worked at Brocade at the time this blog post was written, but he wasn’t when we were doing the first NETCONF and YANG webinar, and he never talked about anything Brocade-specific.

I also invited vendor engineers to Software Gone Wild podcasts. They came from Avaya, Big Switch Networks, Cumulus Networks, Docker, Juniper, HP, Palo Alto and VMware (plus a few startups).

Guess who’s missing? Yep, it’s Brocade. Good job, dear Anonymous, you really did do a thorough fact checking before accusing me of being a shill. And BTW, making baseless anonymous accusations is a great way to start a conversation, particularly if you want to persuade someone to change his mind. Just saying…


  1. Ivan, the whole networking community knows you for your immense knowledge, great webinars, vendor neutrality and I love your "shipping features not futures" mantra. I am glad you set the record straight anyways, but, I think you can safely ignore the ignorant anonymous commentators - probably 99% of your readers/subscribers know better :)

    BTW, I always thought that the sponsored webinars were also awesome (VMware NSX and Cummulus come to mind), in addition to your regular webinars. You have always been very transparent about them being "sponsored".

    I would vote for you to continue them, with the same transparency.
    Many of the past sponsored webinars were of great quality and had great content. I would love to see webinars similar to NSX webinar for the following technologies: Cisco ACI, Arista CloudVision, and HPE VAN SDN Controller.
  2. Some people and vendors might not realize this but building a community around your product is important. Cisco did a great job with that 10-15 years ago with awesome documentation and materials but then they got greedy and disconnected from their customer base. Building a community and convincing people that their product is great (rather than "sponsoring" bloggers) should be more important than marketing.
  3. This was quite an entertaining read. A shill you are not. You certainly keep me on my toes and I'm always proud to be associated with you. Nice response.
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