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Mainframe Solutions

The Challenges of Supporting Multiple OEM Partners

by Dr.Steve.Guendert ‎03-08-2016 07:32 AM - edited ‎03-08-2016 10:40 AM (4,885 Views)

In my role at Brocade, I am responsible for our worldwide mainframe connectivity business. That covers a wide variety of things: end user customer satisfaction, meeting with customers, speaking at conferences, technology development, product management, and supporting Brocade’s multiple storage OEM partners and resellers who have mainframe storage customers.  Today’s blog takes a turn away from my usual technology focus, and will discuss the challenges of supporting these multiple partners.


Abraham Lincoln is considered by many to be one of the greatest American Presidents in the history of the United States.  President Lincoln has many well-known quotes.  One of the most famous is “You can please some of the people some of the time, all of the people some of the time, some of the people all of the time but you can never please all of the people all of the time.”


That in a nutshell sums up the challenges of supporting Brocade’s multiple mainframe storage OEM partners and resellers, all of whom compete vigorously against each other for z Systems end user storage business. So how do I approach this? 


Prior to my career in information technology, I was a United States Navy officer for nearly 11 years. I was a naval flight officer (NFO) and flew EA-6B Prowlers.  Prior to that, I started my Navy career in the naval nuclear propulsion program, and I ended my Navy career recruiting engineering students for that program.  The philosophy of Admiral Hyman G. Rickover became part of me.  The cornerstone of that philosophy and the Nuclear Navy is personal integrity.  “If there is doubt, there is no doubt.”  Integrity is everything.


How do I apply that philosophy to my current job?


  1. The end user customer comes first.
  2. Be helpful and supportive of all of our mainframe storage partners and resellers, and say nothing disparaging about any. If discussing a new product from one of them, compare it only to their prior product and discuss how our Brocade technology enhances and supports their product. When discussing an OEM storage product and how Brocade technology supports it, I’ll use that OEM’s nomenclature for the Brocade hardware.
  3. Play no favorites. Do not get involved in “competitive takeout” scenarios in which one mainframe storage partner is attempting to displace another. Value every partner equally.
  4. Help all of our OEM partners/resellers be successful. If an SE from partner “X” emails me and asks me questions, I answer as best as I can without disparaging anyone. If partner “Y” asks me to write a guest blog or help them write a whitepaper, time permitting, I do so. If partner “W” asks me to do a joint presentation at a conference, I’ll do so as long as it is understood that I will not say anything negative or disparaging about another Brocade partner.
  5. Try my best to give equal time/thought/attention to all of our partners.
  6. It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: share no confidential information. By the way, I had a TS-SCI clearance and went through the US Navy Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape (SERE) training. So, confidential info is safe with me, even if I am being water boarded and beaten.

The bottom line is I do my best to help each of our mainframe storage partners be as successful as possible, without deliberately having a negative/adverse impact on the others. I also try to help individual employees at all of our OEM partners/resellers as best I can.  I have developed personal relationships and friendships with people who work for all of these OEM partners/resellers.  I also have similar relationships with end user customers, and many others in the industry. Mainframers are a tight knit group and I value all of my relationships.  My relationship is with the person, independent of who they work for.


 So, coming full circle I turn back to Abraham Lincoln’s quote from the beginning of this post: “You can please some of the people some of the time, all of the people some of the time, some of the people all of the time but you can never please all of the people all of the time.”


Dr. Steve