Whitepaper LiesBy CWNP On 03/08/2008 - 15 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.