A Thorny Decision


Summer ends with a thorny decision to make over sharing something with VARBusiness readers or holding it back. Here's what you need to know.

While reporting on HP's new EVA3000 mid-range storage system, VARBusiness senior editor Jeff Schwartz conducted a routine interview with CDW's Aaron Ferraro to get his take on the new product, which began shipping last month. Ferraro is a sales engineer at the company. During the interview, Ferraro shared a bit of information that CDW does not traditionally provide to the press"i.e. CDW's sales and unit volume figures for HP's MSA and EVA lines of storage solutions as well as for competing EMC products.

Moments after the interview, a PR spokesman called Jeff back saying Ferraro was not supposed to disclose that information as per CDW policy and asked that he not use it. Jeff said, to the spokesman "as you know, I can't make any promises." The spokesman said he understood but that he would appreciate it if Jeff would refrain from using it. Because the initial article he wrote sought reaction to the actual product from a technical perspective, Jeff didn't use the numbers but said the information could be useful for a potential future piece. Jeff wrote his article on the EVA3000 and a day later took several weeks off. But in the interim, the PR department of CDW got going to contain any potential damage so they escalated the matter to me. Among other things, CDW did some internal investigating as to what exactly was conferred to VARBusiness. CDW's Gary Ross, says not only was the information Ferraro gave to us privileged, but also inaccurate.

An email exchange from Ross included the following: "Thanks for your time on the phone on Friday. I wanted to recap our conversation about the interview Jeff Schwartz did with CDW's Aaron Ferraro a couple of weeks ago. Following that interview, I was told Aaron gave some information on what he thought were CDW sales and unit volume figures for the HP MSA and EVA lines of storage solutions. We looked into the information he gave Jeff, and we discovered that it was inaccurate."

So here's the dilemma: CDW won't tell us what the real numbers are but requests that we not use the numbers provided. Get it? They miscued by sharing bad information, but won't correct the mistake by providing new information because doing so would mean giving out privileged information, which is against company policy.

So what to do? My gut says never share bad information. But candidly, I don't like being hamstrung by CDW. We strive to provide you information that is both accurate and complete. On occasion, we make an honest mistake. When we do, we rely on the goodwill that we have built with readers to keep you coming back for more. I know it might not be your favorite competitor, but let me ask you: does CDW deserve any less? Let me know: tcdoyle@cmp.com.