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Infinera: Plausibility for Cautious Optimism

May, 2019

After so many years of a stubborn, false narrative that its PICs provided a true-cost advantage, without acknowledging their technological drawbacks, including that their optimal play was always for point-to-point applications, as opposed to routes with drops, Infinera has finally given in on just heavily favoring its products developed in-house, such as on DCI gear, as well as on orchestration software. Such developments by themselves would not cause a much greater level of confidence in the supplier this late in the game, when it is as hard as ever for optical system houses to differentiate their products. By far, the potentially most significant change for Infinera is the recent appointment to its corporate board, Greg Dougherty, ex-CEO of Oclaro. Of course, he was on the board of Oclaro, before taking over the company, and then was behind the minor miracle of saving it from...

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Ciena: The “Blue Planet” Metamorphosis

May, 2019

A few years ago, fibeReality wrote: “We believe that historically, [Ciena] has had a penchant for readily transitioning to the strategies and philosophies of executives, particularly brought on through acquisitions…” At least when it came to certain negative effects of the “Nortelization” of the firm, they were tempered by the actions of the CTO office. While in 2016, we were concerned about adequate revenue generation, it did not come to pass for various reasons, including: the substantial improvement in the US economy, Fujitsu’s move to a disaggregated approach, Infinera’s position becoming extremely weakened (while removing Transmode and Coriant as competitors), ZTE almost being destroyed, Nokia Networks’ continuing ambivalence at best toward optics (and its inability to divest those assets), and ADVA Optical Networking previously getting too immersed into the...

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SDN: Prolongation of Past Panacea Parade

May, 2019

  Although SDN proponents are most known for advocating separate Control (C) and Data (D) planes as an abstraction layer, and some have referred to it as a revolutionary, novel paradigm, this bifurcation concept actually goes back to 1975, with the development of SS7 by the original AT&T, which resulted in distinct signaling and transmission networks. This common control mechanism itself turned out to be a great success in due course because it did not upset the offshoots of the legacy Bell System, neither technically/operationally, nor culturally. In contrast, ISDN was a big failure, even though a CCITT recommendation in 1988, exactly discussed the notion of such C and D planes, because it did require a major transition for these carriers, such as in moving away from voice, as well as the heavy amount of resistance at the operators in converging that service with data. Actually,...

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Rockley Headship Legacy: SiPh Hangover

June, 2019

Rockley Photonics’ founder and CEO, Andrew Rickman, could never seem to escape dealing with Silicon Photonics (SiPh) throughout his ventures over the years, paradoxically, representing a microcosm of the industry’s difficulties in working with the technology successfully in general. To be sure, he had an extensive technical background in the field, and was an early advocate of its potential, even dreaming about Bookham, which he founded in 1988, becoming the next Intel, with the focus on optical chips. In addition, the company was responsible for creating a good number of the original patents in the space. Nevertheless, after the bubble burst at the turn of the century, it was Bookham’s purchases of component businesses further up the food chain, particularly from Nortel and Marconi, which resulted in its survival, but not in the long-term continuation of Rickman as CEO (although...

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MACOM: Volte-Face Analogous to Infinera

June, 2019

There are striking similarities between MACOM Technologies Solutions and Infinera – not only regarding the most obvious characteristic that they have likely, more or less, reached rock-bottom on their valuations, but on the comparable paths that they took to get to this point. Each unwisely moved up the food chain from the optical chip level, which had immediate negative ramifications, as Infinera ignored the admonishment that it would rapidly result in a substantial decline in the size of the total long-haul system market, and MACOM quickly became what has been accurately described by some people in the industry, as an ineffective holding company for acquired parts of differing worth (not to mention MACOM entering deeply into the “hyperscale vortex” with Amazon). Each vendor was driven by over-the-top marketing/sales efforts, with the tendency to hype non-existent,...

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