Whitepaper Lies

Whitepaper Lies

By CWNP On 03/08/2008 - 16 Comments

OK, so a guy can only take so much before he has to say something...  I read just about every WLAN whitepaper that is released - and some that aren't.  One thing that is getting worse and worse is the fact that vendors are using the term "whitepaper" to disguise what the document really is - marketing propaganda.  Some vendors feel that it's necessary to make their whitepapers 30-40 pages long so that they can thoroughly explain their marketing propaganda - or perhaps overwhelm the reader with so much information that the reader just assumes everything that is said is true.  This practice has got to stop.  Obviously the vendors won't stop producing these kinds of misleading documents until customers, VARs, and potential customers provide some negative feedback.

I spent 3 days worth of my own time reading and critiquing (line-by-line) a recent ~30-page whitepaper for the benefit of instructors and students who have asked for it.  Previous whitepapers by this vendor and author have been superb, and even the new one is well-written.  By the end of the first couple of pages, I was already having to clean out my BS filter...it was completely clogged.  By the end of 10 pages, I was mentally exhausted with thinking, "this is so entirely wrong and misleading."  Now, I realize that vendors have the obligation to market their products, technologies, and architectures.  They'd be remiss if they didn't.  But one thing they shouldn't do is try to disguise a piece of marketing literature as a technology document.  Don't get me wrong, it's more than one vendor that does this, so I'm not picking on a particular vendor here.  I'm picking on the whole concept of trying to trick techies into swallowing a marketing brochure whole just because it says "whitepaper" on the cover.

"Just the facts ma'am."  Yes, that's what we need - just the facts - not piles of BS from a marketing dept.  I've been toying with the idea of starting an industry watchdog group who critiques such insulting-to-our-intelligence 'whitepapers'.  I'm not exactly sure how I'd go about that, but I think it's something we need.  The WLAN space is about the worst I've ever seen for misleading and agressive-attack marketing, and I think it's only going to get worse if something isn't done.

Who knows, maybe if we all, individually, start giving vendors a really hard time about this sort of thing, they'll rethink this devious non-sense.  It's The CWNP Program's mission to educate and certify WLAN professionals, and part of that mission includes dispelling BS thrown at WLAN professionals by tricksters (whether vendor or otherwise).  We've been telling you for 7 years that hiding your SSID is not a security measure, and now we're telling you that hiding a marketing message in a "whitepaper" isn't education.  The next time you read a whitepaper that sounds like 90% marketing, yell at the author - and tell'em the Devinator sent ya.

16 Responses to Whitepaper Lies

Subscribe by Email
Maitri Shah Says:
07/30/2018 at 07:42am
free gift card

04/02/2008 at 21:01pm
Well said, and that's a great idea!

04/02/2008 at 10:42am
It seems to me that training organizations and other publishing houses should invest more in whitepapers for their own marketing purposes. Think about it: a whitepaper written by an organization that only wants to sell you more knowledge and not a product. While marketing fluff would creep in, at least there would be less motivation to pitch one product over another (as long as the learning organization doesn't end up in some vendor's hip pocket).

Of course, the problem is that the people who could write such papers are swamped writting the books, delivering the training and doing the research. And so, life goes on with whitepapers written by a two person team: marketing (getting the final say in edits) and the technical professional (getting overruled for the sake of sales).

03/31/2008 at 10:46am
I read that whitepaper when it came out and instead of thinking that it begged truth from Meru, I felt that it begged the question, 'why is Aruba attacking Meru?' I very well understand both the Aruba and Meru platforms, design best practices, and more. I can truthfully say that at least 75% of the technical information in that particular whitepaper is inaccurate. That begs the additional question, 'why would Aruba release a whitepaper full of such inaccuracies about another manufacturer's solution?'

This remakes my point that this industry disparately needs a watchdog organization. Just because a 'whitepaper' is long and/or detailed doesn't mean that it's accurate.

I'd be willing to bet that I could write a 30 page whitepaper that could convince 100 unsuspecting WLAN engineers that 802.11n connections are capable of yielding 200 Mbps of throughput on a 3x3 connection, but the bottom line is that it would be wrong regardless of how good it sounds. This is exactly the kind of spreading of misinformation that I'm so against.

At the core of the problem is that these 'unsuspecting engineers' simply haven't had the opportunity to learn all available technologies in order to see through the FUD thrown out there by marketing departments. Given the opportunity to learn every vendor's technology, most engineers would agree that each has its own strong and weak points, but practically all have their niche (or they wouldn't be in business). :)


03/30/2008 at 10:55am
I think Frank Blum put it best in his reply to this article. Nevertheless, in an era of standards one would expect that we should know the truth about a vendor's technology without having to go to inordinate lengths to reveal or try and test the results ourselves. It certainly seems the vendors are more than willing to let us be their test bed. That said, I don't think its an impossible task, at least with some basic groundrules (all defaults, or no features barred) and with a given (multi-floor) environment

"unfortunately examining the impact of co-channel
interference on a large scale in variety of building types and architectures with lots of APs and clients with realistic traffic patterns (in terms of type and longitudinally over time) is not currently possible with the tools available. I think we would learn that there certain scenarios where one performs generally better over another."

03/30/2008 at 10:43am

I thought you might be referring to this article by Aruba on Single Channel Architectures, but this one is pretty detailed, and begs the truth from Meru. How do they handle the challenges of centralized point control? Will we ever know unless we're under NDA?


03/30/2008 at 08:00am
Yeah devin i go with your words .

Most the white papers writen with the intention to feed vendors marketing ideas into it .Indirectly lifting their technology up and the compettitors down .

Most of them are really listing thier comepetive advantage over other .

Whenever i wanna read whitepapers i just bank on the CWNE site and nothing else

03/23/2008 at 11:33am
you're so on the money

what makes it worse is when you the vendor SEs know that you wanna understand the technology, and *still* insist on sending you these "whitepapers"


03/22/2008 at 05:15am
The idea of having a wireless watchdog organization so appealing. I believe that many will be interested in receiving (facts only - BS free) white papers as well as I am.
I hope one day this may become true.

03/19/2008 at 21:06pm
I could not agree more with Devin, in regards to a thousand white papers. If you decide to start the industry watchdog org let me know. I would love to be one of the founders, tired of reading white papers as I am.

In the age of wikinomics, we (the end-users) should be getting better materials with less marketing hype and more concrete and useful information. It's about time someone complained.

03/15/2008 at 15:06pm
Never fear, Devin. I'm still working on my long-awaited whitepaper called, "Have You Read My Whitepaper." It should answer all of these concerns.

03/13/2008 at 20:42pm
Well said!

03/13/2008 at 18:13pm
Most of the innovation happening in the WLAN industry seems to be in the marketing department. Just look at all the conflicting reports we are seeing. This Network Computing article of Cisco 1252 AP shows amazing results:
Aruba recently published a 11n AP test report where Aruba´s AP seems to outperform the competition (Cisco, Meru) by a mile.

You can also find a Meru Report "proving" their single channel architecture is the best.

For the unwary reader, this is outright misleading and confusing. I hope vendors spend resources offering real solutions and stop spreading myths just to be ahead of the competition.

03/13/2008 at 13:10pm
Very true.. I have been going through a few white papers (only a few) and I start to think that the so called features that they say are actually some kind of limitations to customers. The documents are so well business-ly written that I felt I was mislead for a while... Many Thanks Devin for the eye opener....
From the wireless side these are what I thought are the most widely exploited:
1) RF Management
2) Security
3) IDS Solution

03/10/2008 at 20:25pm
Because CWNP isn't an industry watchdog organization. Such an organization would constantly be under attack by just about every vendor on the market - that's my guess anyway. :)


I was just reading this press release and wondering whether this was a press release about Aruba winning a customer or a targeted Meru bashing press release?

03/10/2008 at 19:29pm
Why not just create a link on this site to point to all such so called white papers.
Or create a link for vendor marketing and put all such "white papers" there, we will get the drift.

<< prev - comments page 1 of 1 - next >>

Leave a Reply

Please login or sign-up to add your comment.
Success Stories

I literally just came out of the testing centre having taken the CWDP exam. The certification process opened my mind to different techniques and solutions. This knowledge can only broaden your perspective. Great job, CWNP, you have a great thing going on here.

Read More

Working through the CWNP coursework and certifications helped not only to deepen my technical knowledge and understanding, but also it boosted my confidence. The hard work it took to earn my CWNE has been rewarding in so many ways.

Read More

I want to commend you and all at CWNP for having a great organization. You really 'raise the bar' on knowing Wi-Fi well. I have learned a ton of information that is helping my job experience and personal career goals, because of my CWAP/CWDP/CWSP studies. Kudos to all at CWNP.

Read More