Meet Mr. Ed

My recent column forecasting fading fortunes for Fibre Channel technology provoked a bit of a tempest in the Fibre Channel teapot (see The Fall of Fibre Channel).

Of the messages we received, the following is my favorite. Curiously, it wasn’t sent directly to Byte and Switch, but to a message reflector run by the Fibre Channel Industry Association (FCIA). (Don’t bother trying to join; the reflector isn’t open to people like us.)

One of the FCIA’s members, in the true holiday spirit of pot stirring, forwarded the message in my direction. Here it is, in full:

Wow! Fairly sizzles off the page, don't it?

Now, Mr. Ed here isn’t some flea-bitten Cypress cube monkey (ee! ee! ee!). He’s an applications manager at Cypress Semiconductor Corp. (NYSE: CY), in addition to serving as the vice chairman of TC T11 – the committee within the National Committee for Information Technology Standards (NCITS) responsible for Fiber Channel standards.

An Important Fellow, then. With a sensitive stomach.

I found a few things interesting in the message (apart from Ed’s p*tty mouth). For one, I was grateful to Ed for explaining that I work for a “trade rage.” I think that’s much more impressive than working for a business and technology publication, don’t you? (I’m now debating whether to have business cards reprinted with the title "Founding Rager.")

But what’s even more intriguing is the distribution on Ed’s message. Check out the list of people that Ed cc’d on his message – a veritable Who’s Who of the Fibre Channel world.

You wouldn’t guess it from the salutation – "To my Fibre Channel associates" – but some of these companies are supposed to be competitors. I’m sure their respective stockholders think they are fighting each other for revenues, red in tooth and claw. But in the clubby atmosphere of the Fibre Channel vendors’ world, such collegial bonhomie is not unusual – it’s the norm.

In fact, this sort of "co-opetition" has been going on for as long as I can remember, all the way back to the formation of the FCIA. Instead of establishing an ombudsman for users’ interests, vendors set up the FCIA as an exercise in not rocking the boat, instead setting the shortest course for profitability they could chart. The almost total lack of dialectic that resulted meant that full interoperability, which was one of the group’s purported objectives, has never been achieved.

Comes the Avalanche

So what sort of reaction did Ed manage to stir up with his message to the FCIA members? Not much. The message boards attached to the original column generated 28 messages on Byte and Switch, another 15 on its sister publication, Light Reading.

The messages on the boards can be divided into four roughly equal groups: Group 1 strongly disagreed with the premise of the column. Group 2 agreed with the column. Group 3 were neutral, sort of. And Group 4 used the boards to talk about totally unrelated topics.

There were a couple of gems. I particularly enjoyed the one from a cerebrally limited McData Corp. (Nasdaq: MCDT) employee, who wrote to tell us he thought the article was completely biased… in favor of Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD)! No kiddin'. Check it out: Fall of FC?

I also received five emails from people who wanted to let me know that they agreed with the column but were worried Ed would raise a gun-totin’ posse and come after them if they said so in public.

OK, I made the last bit up.

While Ed’s call to action didn’t have much effect, it was certainly valuable in providing a behind-the-scenes look into the way the Fibre Channel community goes about its business.

So, as Jerry Springer would say:

What did we learn here today?

Well, children, we learned that Ed thinks my opinions are "a pack of s**t." (Thankfully, he didn't modify it with "steaming." That would have been childish.)

But what’s truly important to Fibre Channel customers is:

Should you happen to have questions about the merits of FC-versus-IP, will he treat your opinions with the same respect?

— Stephen Saunders, Founding Rager, Light Reading
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yit 12/4/2012 | 7:25:00 PM
re: Meet Mr. Ed Hello Mr. Saunders,
As always, your column was, to say the very least, entertaining. I am not part of the fiber channel industry, nor am I optically inclined, but I am involved in networking and therefore enjoy 'Light Reading'.

I think that the portion of your column that was actually newsworthy was buried behind your own name calling and bruised ego. The real interesting information is your discussion of the coopetition (collusion) amongst a group of competitors.

Unfortunately I had to wade through a thicket of your ego being hurt to find the real interesting point.

Mr. Grivna's letter stands on its own, and is quite incriminating. Unfortunately you let your own ego stand in the way. Obviously you are an entrepreneur (as a founding editor of Light Reading), and it probably hurts to have your publication ranted against, but Mr. Grivna discredits himself through his letter.

You don't have discredit yourself by name calling - rise above the fray Mr Saunders!
yit 12/4/2012 | 7:24:59 PM
re: Meet Mr. Ed My only point was that medium (newspaper, newscast, or website) is not supposed to be the news.

I thought there were salient points in his column, they were just lost in his rant.

fhe 12/4/2012 | 7:24:58 PM
re: Meet Mr. Ed I agree with optigirl, LR has been going downhill, to a point that it is not worth visiting at all!

I still remember there were times when I visited LR a few times a day to get the latest; now I only visit once every few weeks. But all I see is JUNK by the so-called "editors"!!! And don't get me started on the message board.

I'm OUT, I will not read LR anymore. Fellow readers, I urge you to abandon ship, and let it go down!!!
optigirl 12/4/2012 | 7:24:58 PM
re: Meet Mr. Ed Stephen, et all:

I'm sorry but you folks are becoming ridiculous in the way that you are running your site. You chose to use (abuse) your position as an Editor to trash someone (nice picture, by the way) who said disparaging things about you but when your readers express their dismay with your actions and your policies in a similar fashion, the posts are erased. Rather hypocritcal to say the least.

Why are you are the only ones who have the right to engage in such practices? And how can you then turn around and hold your readers to higher standards? Remember, we are the ones who allow you to charge your advertisers $$$ because we come to the site. What happens when we stop?

The article itself was sophomoric at best and most definitely below what you are capable of. I find you to be one of the best journalists out there when you elect to focus on the facts and add your considerably well informed opinion. But you do yourself, your reputation and your publication great harm by engaging in such unprofessional behavior.

A piece of advice, do onto others as you would have done onto you or if that one doesn't work for you...

Don't dish it out if you are not man enough to take the consequences of actions.
redbull 12/4/2012 | 7:24:57 PM
re: Meet Mr. Ed 1. Relax (they are doing great things with anti-depressants these days).

2. Despite what's written in the article, what IS offensive to all of us is any comparison to Mr. Bin Laden. Shame on you.
redbull 12/4/2012 | 7:24:57 PM
re: Meet Mr. Ed A wise man once told me: "never pick fights with someone who buys their ink (or in this case HTML code) by the gallon"
Cutiepie 12/4/2012 | 7:24:57 PM
re: Meet Mr. Ed These messages will not last for long on the list before being censored, but while they do, lemme express my discontent:

I was just galled when Steve Saunders posted his post-Sept 11th soliloquy on the left column reflecting how he, as ambassador to optical networking, was so grief-stricken by what has happened to the victims, the carriers in the industry, etc.

Have you seen this guy in action? He delights in verbally disembowling fellow panelists, spewing unfounded rumour, etc.

This guy has set such a reprehensible precedent for the industry. He laughs like our friend Osama does in the video, when he receives this kind of criticism.
Dill Weed 12/4/2012 | 7:24:57 PM
re: Meet Mr. Ed Steve - this kind of input (from optigirl) is intolerable. Please censor/delete these postings.

We cannot afford to have any dissension on these boards...you can neg this submission using the "off-topic" rule.

You are the best Steve, you really are!
lightmaster 12/4/2012 | 7:24:56 PM
re: Meet Mr. Ed Yep, the FC industry needs to write a strong re-buttal. Mount a PR campaign.

Don't even think about doing things to stay competitive against newer technologies, like making your customers happy, reducing costs, taking a hit on obscene margins. It's much more profitable to work with your competitors to keep any outsiders from getting in...

P.S. While I agree that LR sometimes goes overboard, maybe often goes overboard, well, maybe always goes overboard, I value the contrast with publications that take pre-chewed food from vendors and regurgitate it back to us.
Say Uncle 12/4/2012 | 7:24:56 PM
re: Meet Mr. Ed First, sorry Ed - this guy Saunders has your number...he will eviscerate you if he can.

Second, I also remember Steve's little posting after the attacks. Sorry Red, but this guy is no Mother Theresa.
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