Meet Mr. Ed

Meet Mr. Ed Froth from the horse's mouth

December 19, 2001

4 Min Read
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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 wasnt 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 AvalancheSo 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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