Last week I wrote about the positive experience I had as an outsider at the Uptime Network meeting in Atlanta. I’m told that my presence as media was groundbreaking. And event organizers told me that they were very careful to alert network members that I would be there.

uptime network inbody

Martin McCarthy addresses the Uptime Network during the meeting's opening session.

Certainly everybody from 451 Research and the Uptime Institute, including Martin McCarthy, Tony Ulichnie, and Anton Hios, treated me well and welcomed me warmly, and QTS welcomed me on the tour of its huge data center. I did hear, however, that one or two members felt a bit uncomfortable about the whole media thing. In retrospect, I was a bit surprised because there were many familiar faces, and the presentations, while very good, were scrubbed so that proprietary project details were not available even to network members.

In this regard, it is hard to see why the Network hadn’t opened this event more widely years ago. In fact, as a result of attending the event, I came to believe that most of the benefits of network membership take place way in the background in private communiqués.

Network members benefit from analysis of the Abnormal Incident Reports database, flash alerts, information sharing, and many other services, none of which were visible at the presentations. And new network members told me that, as new members, they regretted not joining earlier.

So amidst all this good feeling, why do I want to look at the negative? Because it relates to fight club, which is the mentality of secrecy that leaves us vulnerable to cheap shots like the one leveled by the New York Times in its recent coverage of the industry. And so when a Network member questioned whether Mission Critical would portray the Network event favorably, I wondered whether, perhaps, he really thought the industry could put the Genie back in the bottle, particularly, if everyone would just respect the Omerta.

When I relayed my conversation to Matt Stansberry of the Uptime Institute, and a former journalist, he pointed out that the industry trade press had been among the most vocal defenders of the industry in the aftermath of the Times coverage. As a result, I checked some of the coverage, and Matt is right. Every one of the industry websites and magazines found space and time to criticize the Times coverage.

The omerata cannot hold. Everyone agrees that reporter James Glanz spoke to a lot of people, and, in doing so, he got this juicy quote from a “a senior industry executive who asked not to be identified to protect his company’s reputation,“ “ ‘This is an industry dirty secret, and no one wants to be the first to say mea culpa,”  “If we were a manufacturing industry, we’d be out of business straightaway.’ ”  Glanz reported other damaging material as well, and little of the good.

Let me quote Chris Crosby’s October 23rd blog post to sum up my position, “The issue that we face is that, other than we industry insiders, no one knows anything about this [good] information. We have reached the point of maturity within our sector that the industry needs its own body responsible for presenting our industry in a positive light. Maybe it’s the Green Grid or the Uptime Institute or even another consortium with the very specific mission of promoting the essential role we play in world wide economic growth. Our continued success will only be enhanced as end users of data center supported capabilities recognize the essential nature of our products to provide them the capabilities they have come to expect from their laptops, tablets and smartphones. It can also be hindered if we are forced to continually ward off the rocks slung at us by organizations whose common desire is to shackle rather than unleash.”

In this regard, we are own worst enemy. Uptime made an incremental step forward this month. I hope they, or someone else, will build on that step.