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The Dangerous Dance of Product Reviews

By Mike Rothman

taste testOne of the things I miss least about doing marketing on a daily basis is product reviews. Of course when you win it’s awesome. You can then puff up your chest and take a victory lap as the sales folks use the review to beat down the competition. But when you lose it totally sucks. And depending on the culture of the company, unless it was a clear and decisive victory, it may be taken as a loss. Which requires damage control, forcing you to spin why the test was flawed. Then you need to question the integrity of the reviewer. That makes you many friends in the media community. Basically you have to figure out a way to make manure smell like roses. And no, it doesn’t usually work.

So I wouldn’t want to be the folks responsible for running the NSS firewall test at WatchGuard. They got hammered. You can see the value map by registering on Dell SonicWALL’s site, but you can get the highlights and see WatchGuard’s beatdown in this CRN summary of the report.

“Although WatchGuard demonstrated a good level of exploit protection, it was let down by its poor antievasion capabilities and a suboptimal price-performance ratio,” NSS Labs noted in its report.

Frank Artes, director of research at NSS Labs, said the company also had some shortcomings to its system management capabilities. The company’s system manager was not as scalable and mature as other vendor products. WatchGuard was the only vendor tested by NSS Labs that was given a “caution” designation.

The only vendor given a caution designation. Ouch.

So their response is what?

Dave Taylor, vice president of corporate strategy at Seattle-based WatchGuard, said the technology is tuned as a unified threat management appliance and not as a firewall.

Really? It’s tuned as a UTM and not a NGFW? WTF? He is basically acknowledging that the product isn’t a modern device. Who doesn’t want to buy a modern device? Who wants to buy yesterday’s technology? Spin FAIL.

But I am trying to understand why they participated in this test. Clearly, if every other vendor has a product with a modern architecture, and you don’t, the best thing to do is to not participate. But they did and it didn’t end well.

Did I mention I don’t miss dealing with product reviews?

Photo credit: “62:365 – Taster Testings” originally uploaded by Nomadic Lass

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