Guest column: Those the gods would punish

"Not only is there no god, but try getting technical support on a Sunday."

The quote as it should have been said by Woody Allen.

Well, a couple weeks ago I was at Interop, and I'm still trying to catch up. Leave the office for a week and it all goes to hell. I think the gods have it in for me. I must have done something wrong in a previous life and they flipped a coin -- heads, reincarnated as a moth in a strobe light factory, tails, a human in the network industry.

Anyway, Interop -- what a mixed bag. Attendance seemed low but several vendors told me that they were getting very high-quality leads. The Network World party was good, and I interviewed lots of interesting industry executives on Network World Live Television, as well as a dog and a "booth babe" (we discussed the best choice of makeup for show attendees).

Another event that was great fun was the "Crystal Ball Panel: Peering into your networked future," a panel of Network World columnists chaired by Network World's dynamic online editor, Sandra Gittlen. On the panel were Danny "Have you seen my new book" Briere (it is called "Smart Homes for Dummies" and its only failing is that it doesn't have anything to say about knob and tube wiring. We each made a statement about the future and then stood back and took the flak from our fellow panelists and the audience. Good clean entertainment and no one lost an eye.

The show itself was more or less the same show as the spring version.

Quality of service, service-level agreements and (gods help us) convergence were trotted out as primary concerns by every other vendor I spoke with, and I now start to twitch at the merest hint of scalability. I gag at "carrier-class," shudder at the mention of "cost-effective," and feel nauseated by "groundbreaking." I abhor "modular," "scalable" and "flexible," and sneer at "market leader," "investment protection" and "highly redundant." And I cannot hear "state of the art" or "next generation" without feeling the impulse to lash out violently.

So let me offer a template for all vendors who want to do a product press release that covers all the bases:

[City, State] Date. [company name], the leading [vendor/supplier/your choice], announces [product], which gives [consumers/network managers/go-go dancers] a unique [strategic platform/scalable solution]. This [paradigm shifting/convergence] [product/service] revolutionises [whatever it does] and ensures [investment protection/scalability/redundancy]. For more details see our Web site at, where we will make sure you can't find the pricing even if we have got around to putting up product details, or call Trinket Knowsnothing, who knows nothing but will happily say any crud that comes into her head and when you respond with "I don't understand what you're saying" will confess that she's been on the job for two days, having been promoted from the mail room, and that English is her second language but if you speak Latvian she could help you and anyway you really need to speak to Bob but he's on another call or perhaps run amok in the coffee room with a blunt spoon screaming, "I can't stand this business and I'm not going to take it anymore," but she'll make sure he gets back to you before the year is out. Oh, and the product will be available in the third quarter.

Ah, that feels better. This is one of the things I love about being a columnist -- it is so therapeutic. I can express my angst and spleen and that of a large portion of the readership. But back to catching up. One thing I'm sure of is that I'll never die -- I'm too far behind.

(Show it all to nwcolumn@

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

More about Interop

Show Comments