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Optical/IP

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
http://www.lightreading.com
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Say Uncle 12/4/2012 | 7:24:55 PM
re: Meet Mr. Ed Sure, we can marvel over and over again at the spiciness of this website, but Steve's "inspired" piece includes not only fact and opinion, but high-profile, personal attack...what the Hell is the point there?

If you know Steve, you know he just loves a good match of fisticuffs, whether it's with Carl Russo or Harry Bosco or John Roth, or some unfortunate CEO or VP of a start-up. But I don't know how his campaigns of libel and slander benefit the industry. He'll be the first to admit that it used to sell ads, but given the current state of the industry, I don't think that's the case any more.

Regardless of how much people really despire Steve & Co - they have built a fanstastic voice of authority when they are not playing assassins. But even that is called into question when he or his editors merrily jump on to the website and erase alot of good input.

Ahhh shucks, this tiger is never going to change his stripes.

Let's now start the count-down to his guiltless rebuttal...5, 4, 3, 2, 1...
dietaryfiber 12/4/2012 | 7:24:55 PM
re: Meet Mr. Ed
There are 2 forms of communications at LR. Factual reporting of events, and commentary on events. One should not confuse the two, although I do see that they are somewhat mixed in some factual stories.

It is quite proper for Editorials to blast across the bow. It is quite proper to have responses from the other side. This is out of the realm of facts and into the world of subjectives (see Republicans versus Democrats for another view of this).

People push their technology opinions all the time. Cisco pushes the IP uber alles concept. In this case, its a debate over Fiber Channel. Does an editor of a website have an opinion that's valued in the debate? Not sure. Many things have been declared dead by Networking Pundits (see Frame Relay) and have lived on for many profitable years.

The question is whether pundit opinion actually matters to customer buying behavior. Marcom people sure hope so, or their is no need for them. In this case, I would say that LR has a spotty record (as most pundits do) for predicting actually progress forward.

Will I stop reading LR. Heck no! The factual parts are often good. The rest is what makes it the National Enquirer of the Telecom Industry.

dietary fiber
dietaryfiber 12/4/2012 | 7:24:53 PM
re: Meet Mr. Ed I guess you miss my point.

In an editorial, he SHOULD be attacking things he considers stupid. He should do so with vigor. We should be considering whether we care or not.

This is the OP-ED part of LR. It is just like a newspapers OP-ED section. They take a stance. You read it and can do with it what you will. This differs from the front page, which is supposed to be factual news.

The fact that people are attacked personally matters little to the fact of the writing. It matters greatly to the fact of the reading. The question I ask myself is, "Will I care more or less about what this person says and writes in the future?" Personal attacks in public generally make me care less about what somebody has to say.

dietary fiber
froggy 12/4/2012 | 7:24:50 PM
re: Meet Mr. Ed Mr Ed,

Let me suggest something like :

iSCSI GOOD !! FC BETTER !!!!
Steve Saunders 12/4/2012 | 7:24:49 PM
re: Meet Mr. Ed Say Uncle,

I can only give you the same response we always give. Messages and accounts are deleted only when they break our terms of use (if people don't
want to read the terms of use, there's not much we can do about it).

To Optigirl's point: "when your readers express their dismay with your actions and your policies in a similar fashion, the posts are erased"

We don't delete posts for disagreeing with us. A large part of why we
set up these message boards was so that we can get your feedback.

If I deleted every statement I disagreed with we wouldn't have many messages. Consider the messages posted today. We have one person who's so outraged over my opinions about Fibre Channel technology that he's comparing me to bin Laden....an over-reaction, in my opinion, but I didn't delete the message.

Of course, sometimes you just have to say "enough." If someone feels they can't make a point without using profanity, resorting to racist insults, impersonating someone else, or whaever, then yes, we delete them. The terms of use are clear about when people
are crossing the line.

If we didn't do this, this message forum would quickly degenerate into just another Yahoo board. I don't want that.

Steve

p.s you need to read up on the libel and slander laws. There's nothing libelous or slanderous in the column. It's also not intended to be an attack Mr. Grivna -- it simply an attempt to hold him publicly accountable for his email. That's the sort of thing journalists are supposed to do, as I think you, for one, probably realise.
elgrivna 12/4/2012 | 7:24:48 PM
re: Meet Mr. Ed Hi All,

I'm the "infamous" person who posted the
message to to the referenced people, and I cc'd the fibre channel reflector. Since I'm now being disparged in print to tens of thousands (instead of in private to select individuals) I would like a chance to respond in a semi-public domain.

First off, the title itself here; i.e., "trade rage", is a typo on my part. The exact words
as they appeared in the email (I went back and checked my original) were 'major trade rage' which should have been 'major trade rag' as periodicals are often refered.

As anyone who writes a large number of emails knows, typos do occur (I remember the joke about the monks copying manuscripts, where one decides to check the original document and finds that the real word was "celebrate" (8-). In this case it was unfortunate that it converted one real word into another. Here, in reality, I was/am the one "enraged" by the content.

Someone (I'm not sure who) forwarded me a copy of this reresponse to my email (thank you for the courtesy), and to that person I generated the following response.

------------

Interesting comments, and I thank you for sending them to me (whomever you are).

However, I stand by my original premise that this article, especially its title, was meant to cause panic in the presence of an already skittish economic market, rather than inform the readers with a balanced presentation of the facts. This "opinion page" was presented as fact, and that is where I draw the line.

I have seen many articles over the past decade tout the demise of SCSI, that ATM would take over the world, that token ring would replace Ethernet. All hogwash.

The technology best appropriate and most cost effective to the task is the one that is generally used there. iSCSI will definitely have its place. I hope to use it at home someday. Fibre Channel in the history file? Its just getting started, and ramping as we speak.

Fibre Channel meets specific needs that are not handled by an IP stack environment. Multiple ports with the same address, reserve release, striping with parity correction, guaranteed delivery, compelled data, etc. are concepts that are dealt with in an FC environment that do not exist in the confines of an IP based connection.

Will iSCSI have a large/significant market? Yes. Will Fibre Channel have a large/singificant market? Yes. Will either of them come close to the size of the generic PC ATA market in our lifetime (assuming Serial ATA falls into this too)? Doubtful. There is even another "new" serial storage initiative called SAS that has aspirations to replace all others. Can it happen? Yes. Will it happen? Doubtful, unless it is very, very, very good at what it does, and is very low cost.

Ed Grivna


Say Uncle 12/4/2012 | 7:24:47 PM
re: Meet Mr. Ed You're a true hero, Steve, you really are...censoring the bejesus out of the discussion boards when nobody's looking, and then chivalrously excercising restraint on censorship when it hits the public eye.

Inconsistent censorship - the worst kind. I think the rules of censorship your editor uses - getting rid of "dumb" and "stupid" stuff - is the most enjoyable to watch.

OK - I'm done...CENSOR THIS BAYBE.
switchrus 12/4/2012 | 7:24:47 PM
re: Meet Mr. Ed Ed said:


GǥI'm the "infamous" person who posted the message to to the referenced peopleGǪ

Great response to an awkward situation, an excellent response without a large dollop of venom on the side! The points you make in defense of Fiber Channel are well presented, some GǣspinGǥ but thereGs nothing wrong per say with spin, as long as everyone knows which dog in the fight is yours. I believe most know which is yours now, no double entendre intended.

Now can we all play nice in the san(d) box? Pun intended
hawkman 12/4/2012 | 7:24:46 PM
re: Meet Mr. Ed Now I can hammer all the execs listed on Ed's email with sales propaganda, now that I know who they are and how to get a hold of them with out some gate keeper receptionist thwarting my efforts. Thank you LR, can you print some more for me...I promise I will advertise on your site if you do...

On a serious note, I would be pissed if someone printed my email address on a web read by many people in my industry, especially if I was a "who's Who" in my sector. I think you should remove it, but I already copied it.
nwanamaker 12/4/2012 | 7:24:45 PM
re: Meet Mr. Ed There are some invalid messages in this column.

First, there are two distinct organizations involved with Fibre Channel - T11, which is a standards organization developing industry standards for storage device attachments (which means achieving consensus on standard protocols and physical interconnects), and FCIA, which is a trade organization whose function is promoting Fibre Channel. The same relationship exists between T10 and the SCSI Trade Association, and will probably eventually exist between IETF and one or more trade organizations. You appear to be confusing these organizations. Mr. Grivna in fact addressed his communication to members of T11, and to the T11 reflector (which is administered by FCIA, but FCIA does not control its membership or content). He did not send it to the FCIA membership.

Second, as no company produces the entire spectrum of products to create a SAN, vendors who may compete vigorously with one another in the marketplace still feel it in their best interests to promote Fibre Channel and SANs.

It is clear to all of us who work on development of standards that in order for them to be successful, they must provide the most cost-effective solutions, or else they will never be implemented, or be supplanted by other technologies. For this reason, the process of standardization continues, with several new Fibre Channel standards in development.

Anyone who wishes to subscribe to the FC reflector may follow the instructions to be found on the T11 website (www.t11.org). They probably won't find the conversation very interesting, as it normally concerns itself with minutiae of specs (the current hot topic deals with the specification of disparity in 10GFC EOFs).

I am an interested party, being Secretary of T11, as well as a member of T1X1 (Telecommunications standards).
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