Transparency into confusion

Be careful of the windows you look through - sometimes you won't be happy with what you see. Sun has posted review widgets on our site for a few months now. In keeping with our blog philosophy and our open source culture, it makes sense to solicit feedback direct from the source. One of the keystones of a review is a fair basis of understanding - the reviewer knows and understands what it is they are reviewing. So what do you do when that breaks down?

One of my products, Sun Connection has had a spate of bad reviews recently. As soon as they came up, we looked closely at each one. And each one has the same problem - it's not for the product that we have listed! To a tee, every review was really feedback on a feature in Solaris that provides single system patch updates, confusingly called Sun Update Connection (vs this product - Sun Connection). Sun Connection is an enterprise patch management tool that works across Linux, zLinux and Solaris systems. Sun Update Connection is a simple interface into downloading patches from Sun for a single machine.

Choice reviews inlcluded such pointed feedback as:

  • Extremely buggie product. It hangs very often and sometimes is very difficult to put the tool working again.
  • I will never use Sun again. I have been migrating my business and my customers from Solaris to Linux. This is absurd. No more patch clusters. Register for this. Register for that. Sun used to be a great company. No more. I can't get security updates without remembering my username for this, my username for that. Ubuntu and Debian, here we come!
  • While the GUI is nice in theory, I hate it. It gives no feedback on what it is doing and which machine it is doing it on. I would much rather have a CLI based method that give proper feedback and syslogging. Plus updatemanager is unreliable
  • Unusable. Would much rather download clustered patches, which doesn't seem to be an option anymore

Ouch. Frankly though, fair. All these comments point out very real deficiencies in the built in patch management tools with Solaris. They also point out frustration with our patch policy. What they don't point out is any feedback on the product the reviews show up on - Sun Connection, our enterprise patch management tool. Clearly, this is our (SMI's) fault. We haven't done a good enough job naming and describing our products, we haven't communicated out patch policy well, and we apparently haven't given customers enough options on how to use the system. We're working aggressively on addressing all of these - with Project Indiana, launching new products and restructuring the web site.

In the meantime, we've taken the reviews down off our product page. I want to apologize - this is a failing of my team that we've needed to do this, and we're working overtime to relaunch our pages with a clearer delineation on what exactly our products are. The point of the reviews is to help spark the conversation, and keep it open even among the disenfranchised. Reviews will return soon (before the end of the calendar year). In the meantime, please take advantage of the comments, and let's have a discussion on the issues and merits of our products! We know we're not perfect, and we do want to make it better!

Comments:

Let's assume that patch management in project indiana with new tools (similar to apt-get) works fine. There is no benefit in it when you don't putback it to Solaris soon.
I have seen Sun Update Connection which looks fine but is buggy and let me show Sun Connection as an alternative. This software might work well but is much to complicated for small firms.
P.S.
I hope that an improved patch management application from Indiana and Liveupgrade will replace all the other options. I only need few options which work simple and reliable.

Posted by Otmanix on October 15, 2007 at 05:41 PM PDT #

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