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A testimonial bites back

Never have I seen a stranger vendor "testimonial" given than that by the NSW Department of Primary Industry's Warwick Lill of Sun Microsystems at Gartner's data centre summit last week. The presentation was billed as a Sun Microsystems 'solution session', whereby Sun's data centre practice manager Gary Kelly would interview Lill about the Department's data centre reference implementation (with Sun as key services partner, obviously).

Never have I seen a stranger vendor "testimonial" given than that by the NSW Department of Primary Industry's Warwick Lill of Sun Microsystems at Gartner's data centre summit last week.

The presentation was billed as a Sun Microsystems 'solution session', whereby Sun's data centre practice manager Gary Kelly would interview Lill about the Department's data centre reference implementation (with Sun as key services partner, obviously).

After 20 minutes or so the little mock interview was progressing nicely. The audience was gaining good insight into a major IT project, and Kelly was starting to work in leading questions like 'tell us how Sun has helped you deliver the project'.

But then Kelly asked Lill to recount the initial design phase of the project, and all of a sudden Lill didn't seem to be describing Sun as doing the "terrific" work he'd said they'd done earlier.

"We bought a design I believe ... whereas Sun sold us a set of hardware and software and professional services during the implementation," Lill told the audience, and what I imagine was a shocked Kelly.

This sentiment goes against everything vendors ever preach. As you well know, vendors never claim to sell hardware, software or services. It's always 'solutions', and the designs around them.

Lill also told the audience the project was running late and had been delayed for a number of reasons.

If the audience was in any doubt over what Lill meant by his Sun comments though, they only had to wait till Kelly asked him what he might do differently in the project if he had his time again.

Said Lill: "If I was doing it again, I think I'd spend more time in the contract negotiation stage looking at the very fine detail of what was proposed."

Now that is not something you expect your 'testimonial' customer to say before an audience of onlookers.

Funnily enough, Kelly did not allow any time for questions.