I generally don’t discuss “industry” issues here since that’s what I get paid to do at my day job. And if I start offering for free here, what I get paid to do over there, I may find myself offered the opportunity to do it for free on a permanent basis.

Mike Rothman runs one of the better industry-oriented blogs. He and I used to sit across the table when he ran marketing for one of the vendors I cover. I like Mike a lot better as an analyst.

He’s running an interesting debate on the problems with the security market. The debate started with an article in Dark Reading, moves to Mike’s blog here, Alan Shimel responds, then Mike gets the last word (for now). At the crux of their debate is the honesty of vendors and the aggressiveness of their sales and marketing tactics.

My opinion?

I work with many excellent security vendors who are out to protect their customers and fairly make a little money on the way. But, every single day, either directly to me, or relayed by my clients, vendors misrepresent their products or outright lie about capabilities. Usually it’s the marketing or sales teams, not the product teams. Do all vendors lie? No, but the good vendors out there are frequently forced into bad positions by their less scrupulous competition.

Yes, vendors lie. So does your Mom (remember the tooth fairy) but that doesn’t make her the embodiment of pure evil. Probably.

And some of this is simply passion for their products. Everyone thinks their baby is the best looking, smartest, most talented in the world, but there are still a lot of dumb, ugly, couch potatoes. If you don’t believe in what you do you shouldn’t be doing it.

So how do you cut through the crap?

My self serving answer is use your friendly neighborhood analyst. The biggest part of our job, at least for those of us who are end user focused, is to help make appropriate buying decisions and separate hype from reality. Our testing lab is the production environment of our end user clients- if a product doesn’t work, we’ll eventually hear about it.

But if you don’t trust or can’t afford an analyst firm just do what we do. Ask your vendors for customer references in production deployments; if a feature isn’t in production, with a reference-able client, it isn’t real. Then talk to your network and see what other companies like yours are doing and if any have deployed the product.

Let’s be honest- most of you readers are either security-types, or at least have a passing interest in security. It’s not like we trust anyone anyway.