Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Security vendors

The phone rings and the caller ID screen is friendly enough to inform me that the caller is suppressing their number, or the call seems to originate from an area code nowhere near my place of work. Nine times out of ten, I let the call go to voice mail. Even when I am not terribly busy when the call comes in, I do not get much pleasure out of a vendor's cold call.

A few weeks ago I was expecting a phone call and when the phone rang I accidentally answered without checking the screen. Bang; fell right into the trap. Being a security professional, I have multiple layer of defenses prepped, and star performance phrases such as "no budget remaining", "no plans to evaluate products for at least 9 months", "small institution with limited resources", "do you provide deeply discounted educational licenses", etc. are usually enough to scare away cold callers. Not this one though. Maybe I will have to add a high-quality recording of a fire alarm to my desktop as a next lime of defense "Sorry; gotta go. Fire alarm"

My conversation partner stayed friendly and acknowledged that he would likely not earn a dime on our account for at least another year. Even after that, the chances of making a sale would be slim. However, he would still like to come out and meet with us, just to introduce themselves.

Since the product sounded vaguely interesting, I agreed that they
could do a presentation of about an hour and show their product to us.
Much to my surprise, the team that showed up to talk to us consisted of
the company's CEO, the regional sales director East and a systems
engineer. While this company is by no means large, they are not small
either, so I was more or less surprised.

The presention
went as most pre-sales meetings go. An introduction by the CEO and the
sales rep, a technical problem with one of the laptops, and a
demonstration of the product. During the presentation some Q&A.
After an hour, my visitors departed, I had a better understanding of
their product and they get to give me a follow-up call in 9 months.

product itself is interesting; if I would have to summarize it, I would
characterise it as an intelligent network surveillance appliance. For a
change, I will look at the progress they make in 9 months to see if
some of the limitations that I was able to identify during the
presentation have been addressed. As far as price goes; I have no idea.
They gave me a rough indication of what to expect, and I have to
balance that price against the perceived benefits that we would get.

For now, I will not classify this past hour as a loss-of-time, but I also do not have great expectations.

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