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Friday, February 22, 2008

How Not to Start a Briefing

I was on a vendor call today with two of my analyst colleagues. The vendor intended to update us on a revision to an existing e-mail security appliance. The product is simply known as the "8300 appliance." Of course, the product managers must have assumed that the product's functions would be somehow self-evident, because the product manager's first question to us, after introductions, was this: "Are you all familiar with the 8300 product?" Crickets started chirping on cue... Now, bear in mind that not too long ago I received a briefing from a different vendor about a product they called "the 8550." This was another gateway product -- but for SOA security. Too many briefings, plus too many arbitrary number-centric naming schemes, equals confusion. Considering how much flak Microsoft catches about their products, at least historically they haven take time to come up with names that tell you something about what their products do (e.g., Internet Security and Acceleration Server). They seem to have fallen off the sensible-naming wagon lately (Windows Live OneCare? Dynamics?), but still get it right more often than not. Mercedes and BMW can get away with numbers-only product names. Security vendors? Not so much.

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