The aircraft carrier "Midway", port of San Diego, California.
Back from San Diego, I had a meeting yesterday night in Paris with the VP Sales & Marketing of a new startup working on some *fiber network monitoring* stuff. I can't disclose anything of course, just that it's about Fiber-To-The-Home.
Things we've discussed until late in the evening were on the forthcoming changes in the optical comms industry per se and our own lives.
Like this one : thanks to FTTH and 40G/100G/etc. networks, we're going to be "online" everywhere anytime, with our entire "life" relying on *The Net*. Fine.
Now, since we'll do everything - working, watching TV, training, sharing life, etc. - through a single fiber strand, this one better stay up and running 24/7 : we won't accept being cut off for 2 days until the Repair guys come in. Hence the need for monitoring systems, which would look after the faults on the fiber right up to our living room.
A tremendous challenge, provided the numerous FTTx networks topologies and technologies. A challenge which requires to think out of the box. Something the legacy Test & Measurement firms can't do. Something a well funded startup can do. How much do they need ? $5m. Which is not that much for a solution which will help change the World (because it'll guarantee your fiber stays okay).
Ed. note : French world-famous blogger Loic Lemeur got $6m for his Web 2.0 video-sharing platform. Raising $1m less to produce something which really serves the World shouldn't be that much a problem. At least in a perfect World...
Time to wrap-up and go home tonight, after a 3-days stay here in San Diego pretty interesting : for someone who already spent a quarter of century into this industry, it's good to see that things are back on track.
As I've been out doing something else for quite some time - powerline communications, Web 2.0, WebTV : also a nice set of new stuff to discover and get hands on - I did come back to OFC with a different approach than 5 years ago : look out of the box.
That's why I can tell : OFCNFOEC'08 is pretty similar in size and atmosphere to the OFC'97 - '98, which means (once again, sorry to repeat myself ;-) that we all going to have fun again.
Read on MacDailyNews :
"An Apple iPhone or iPod Touch will become a central part of Abilene Christian University's innovative learning experience this fall when all freshmen are provided one of these converged media devices, said Phil Schubert, ACU executive vice president.
At ACU - the first university in the nation to provide these cutting-edge media devices to its incoming class - freshmen will use the iPhones or iPod Touches to receive homework alerts, answer in-class surveys and quizzes, get directions to their professors' offices, and check their meal and account balances - among more than 15 other useful web applications already developed, said ACU Chief Information Officer Kevin Roberts."
According to Mr Metcalfe himself, the Communications world is now based on a 4-layers model : Ethernet > Internet > Web > Google.
Google : recruiting at OFC. Of course we know Google has its own fiber infrastructure. But. What if... Google is the only company on Earth able to do what Bob Metcalfe asks the whole Communications industry to do : re-invent the Network.
Okay, the idea of having one single company managing the whole stuff could be scarring off some people, but heck, that would be an exciting journey.
Doesn't Google have its own switches now ? So, imagine Google coming up with some fancy optical transport technology. Like Soliton, for instance...
This are my running notes of Bob Metcalfe' s keynote speech at the opening plenary session here at OFCNFOEC'08, San Diego, California. Posted after the speech, for misspelling corrections and irrelevant stuff deletion.
I'll comment some of them later on, in a further post. Just this personal note : Mr Metcalfe himself confirms that good times are ahead for the the Fiber industry. Should she wants to reinvent herself.
Running notes :
- BM has no ppt slides.
- uses instead 3 cards stacks, today will use 5 packs - reads the cards either on the table or hand held.
- the agenda of the day is to get the answer to two questions : "why should we be Terabit Ethernet ?", and then "how ?".
- 20 years between the first optical Ethernet in 1978 and the real commercial one.
- BM has a new project : create the Ether-Net, to solve energy crisis.
- SONET vs Ethernet : Ethernet won because of prices slash on cost per bit.
- BM prefers the terminology "telephon television and data" vs "voice video and data".
- the Internet is now carrying video, mobile, and embedded apps.
- Internet was not designed for none of them.
- Bubblephobia : people still afraid of traffic growth after the 2000 burst.
- expects growing traffic on embedded apps : first were mainframes then mini-computers then PCs then laptops then palmtops, so what's next ? : embedded.
- "alien wavelengths" : fiber people don't allow computer people to send their own wavelengths on the fiber.
- Ethernet technology will continue to ramp-up on a 10x slope, not 4x : 10G, then 100G, then 1T.
- Terabit Ethernet needs break out the existing infrastructure, otherwise it will be chaos.
- chaotic infrastructure because of too many levels, pieces, components - too much complexity.
- BM to the audience : "it's good news for you : it's gonna be fun". invent new stuff. means new business.
- BM lists some directions : new fibers : maybe carbon fibers ? how about no fibers at all ? how about free space mesh ? OOO (no more OEO conversion) ? etc ?
- we will never hear the word "OC3072" because of Ethernet 100G.
- Intel Sales & Marketing VP says TbE will not happen on terminal devices - it will be WiMax instead.
- when Tim Berners Lee invented the WWW, he never thought there will be a Google.
- today we have 4 layers, no more the 7 of the OSI model : at the bottom : Ethernet, then Internet, then WWW, then on top : Google.
- we need to re architect Ethernet because online video : download needs bandwidth, streaming needs QoS, interactive needs low-latency : Ethernet never been good at that.
- re-architect Ethernet : routing, switching, etc.
- meet people needs for lower energy consumption.
- Ethernet will help reducing transportation needs etc.
- BM asks the audience : "you fiber communications people are you ready to help solve the energy crisis ?"
Short biography of Dr. Robert M. Metcalfe: MIT engineer, Harvard mathematician, Internet developer, Xerox scientist, Ethernet inventor, Stanford professor, 3Com founder, Cambridge fellow, InfoWorld pundit, and now Polaris partner.
Read the OFCNFOEC plenary session program here.
See Bob Metcalfe' s recent interview by Light Reading here, and read more here.
Get the clear picture on why online video naturally changes the World here.
Last but not least, the legend of Bob Metcalfe is here, by Wired.
I'm heading for the OFC'08 tradeshow, going first to San Francisco to do some business with a couple of french friends of mine who have the very chance to have both a french and a US passport.
I'll do my best to do live blogging on Tuesday next week, for the OFC Keynote - Bob Metcalfe will be there.
CU soon ;-)
See those two folks on this slide ? On the left hand photo, this is Jim Hayes himself, during a training at his fantastic FOA Fiber Optic Association. On the right one, this is my fellow Musketeer colleague Dieter Gustedt, formerly OTDR Product Line Manager with the Optical Network Test Division at Agilent Technologies.
What if you could get trained on fiber cable installation right at your place, right on the field ? No more wasted time in transports, no more painful lecture training in a classroom far from your home, no more hands-on practice on a table. Just a time-saving, practical, productive training.
That is what eXperide is to provide : quick-start on-site hands-on training for installation & maintenance contractors, enabling technicians to get up-to-speed faster and better.
I won't disclose everything of course - although I'm quite proud of the marketing & sales strategy the team has put together - but here's a brief overview of the tools eXperide will bring to its fellow customers sometime this year :
- pre-equipped mobil-home trucks, sporting ready-to-use workstations for hands-on training (cable preparation, splicing, and testing);
- pre-loaded iPhone and/or iPod Touch, with e-learning materials (e.g. podcasts and videos) and direct access to eXperide' s technical support;
- discussion forums and weblogs, for people to share their best practices and experiences.
Quite an exciting one, right ? Then, stay tuned for more ;-)
Since October 1st 2007, I'm working with the french group "R&D", who owns the french largest fiber optics distributor ICTL. My job: help the company to create and launch a new subsidiary aimed at consulting & training services for the Optical Communications industry.
Please welcome eXperide, your new fiber optics companion.
What we do : bring fiber optics skills to everyone.
Why we do exist : to help telcos and al. to build, operate, and maintain state-of-the-art networks faster and better.
Here's the eXperide' flyer intro :
" in this ever-changing world, where the survival and development of your business relies on a fast and constant adaptation, knowing markets and technics is mandatory for your success. eXperide has been designed to address your needs of advice and training in all parts of installation & maintenance of optical communications networks.
We do exist to go alongside with you at every stage of your growth, from qualifying existing installations up to helping you to setup new structures aimed at networks' s construction & maintenance and certifying your outside plant technicians for jobs at service providers and system integrators.
Our only objective : to enable you to go to market faster, better, and safer. "
To better understand the core idea behind eXperide, have a look on the presentation I've created back in late October to get the whole team engaged - and focused. Of course, you won't see the most interesting part of of it : our strategy ;-) My favorite quote : "Entrepreneurship is the last refuge of the trouble making individual".
For those of you who would like to learn more about the fantastic Pau Broadband Country environment, here's a quick start URL links - I'll put them on the right sidebar ASAP.
Note that some of them are in french only.
[updated Feb.20 6:22PM CET - with actual URL links for SnapShot to display the right pages]
Ed. note : if you still wonder if you should make the jump from the Bay Area to the Bearn (nice confusion when pronounced with a typical french accent ;-), have a look at the weather forecast for San Francisco and Pau.
See what I mean now ?
As a presenter who like to travel light - I'm a bit tired of opening up my laptop at each and every security check in the airports (even if it's a MacBook), I'm currently testing a new way to rehearse and do presentations whilst on the road (or in the air).
Here's the 7-steps process :
1. with Apple' Keynote, create the simplest slides set possible, following Guy Kawasaki' s 10/20/30 rule and Garr Reynolds' s Zen approach,
2. export the Keynote file to both Powerpoint and Acrobat file formats,
3. upload the three files onto Zoho Projects,
4. import the PPT file into Zoho Show,
5. send the PDF file to myself on my .Mac account,
6. copy the three files on my favorite USB key,
7. check the availability and integrity of all those files (takes a few minutes only).
Then, I can :
a) access the slides from anywhere in the World, thanks to the Web 2.0.
b) download the PDF onto any PC or Mac once on site.
c) review the slides on my iPhone.
The latest proves to be the most interesting part of the experiment. For instance, I can rehearse my presentation in the airplane, without needing to grab my MacBook. Also, I don't fear intrusive eyes from the guy next seat, see what I mean ?
* " in the air ", not : " on the Air " ;-)
Reading Robert Scoble' s latest post, on how small teams can make a big difference within large companies, I thought about... the Agilent Mini-OTDR. This little box, which is not as sexy as the iPhone of course, was the GameBoy of his kind at its release back in 1996.
To make it short, this product was a breakthrough-paradigm shifting optical tester, inventing a brand new category - the so-called handhelds - for a brand new type of end-users : the fiber optics installers. Almost 12 years after its release, the Agilent Mini-OTDR is still the reference, as the two main competitors JDSU and EXFO (ever heard of those names ? ;-) even do copy & paste - including the naming system.
What's the link with Scoble' s post ? Small teams. The Mini-OTDR has been defined, designed, and engineered by a 6-people team, within the HP Optical Communications Division group (aka Agilent Photonic Test Division or something like that as of today). Take Scoble' s text, replace "Microsoft" by "HP", "Yahoo" by "EXFO" and you get the same picture.
Who said "Less Is More" ?...
post-scriptum : the hands carrying the Mini belong to my dear buddy Dieter *John* Gustedt, the guy who made the Agilent Modular Network Tester real.
"Plusmo's mobile widgets application is a cool way to read RSS feeds on your cell phone or PDA, but that's not the only reason it was named a finalist on the Webware 100 list.
In true Webware fashion, Plusmo's site offers hands-on excitement--the chance to publish and share widget mash-ups and create an iPhone widget from templates. Users can also make personal blogs available as a Plusmo widget, and can install a browser bookmarklet or Yahoo plug-in to snag feeds while they surf."
Sunrise Telecom just announced its new TriplePlay tester. See here.
The good thing : it does all TriplePlay Services tests. The bad one : it does the tests from the CO.
Question : how about testing the link FROM the subscriber' s home ?
Silicon Valley-based Sunrise Telecom seems to enter a heavy disturbance zone. That's what you get when you do Product Marketing the wrong way (shall I add that Product Marketing and Business Development - hence sales - are part of the same virtuous circle ?). IMHO, SRT will be gone by end 2009 the latest, except if they decide to change their strategy and restart from scratch. Means that's one (small) player less on the Communications Networks Test & Measurement battlefront.
Now, think of this one : what if Agilent Technologies decides to come back on this market, as they did back in late '99 ? My bet : they would go with a couple of M&A deals. Agilent should buy EXFO. Because : a) EXFO' s products portfolio is complementary to the actual Agilent' s one (which is 80% on R&D and Manufacturing, whilst EXFO is 80% Installation & Maintenance), and b) EXFO' s model is HP Test & Measurement, aka Agilent Technologies.
Such a deal would definitely position Agilent as the number one leader on the I&M Testing marketplace, whilst JDSU and Anritsu would be forced to fight hard (read: innovate) to survive in between Agilent and Fluke+Tektronix.
When you think about it, Fiber-To-The-Home is the ultimate experience for outside plant technicians. For the first time ever, those folks are working right in front of the end-user.
That implies a lot of new behavior for the OSP people, as they are kind of the front-desk of the service provider. To make it short : the guy who's installing the fiber at the subscriber' s place is also the ISP' s sales rep.
Hence the need for coaching the OSP technicians to customer-facing situations. Be the best sales rep. That's quite an interesting challenge, for both the trainers and the installers themselves. Have a look at this video, and you'll understand why.
Just a side note : I've bought a MacBook this afternoon, as my good 5-years-old-400°C-fire-resistant PowerBook G4 just went off (seems the graphic card needs some repair). Not the Air (as the latest Apple marvel is a bit too expensive for me at the moment), but a nice white 2.2GHz CoreDuo.
My new companion was up and running in less than 3 minutes, including online registration at Apple.com. I created a partition for Windows, of course; it took a couple of clicks, and boom, the thing was okay - live, of course. I set up my printer : less than 30 seconds for MacOS to a) find it, b) find its driver, c) select it as default. Then I got all my files back, thanks to TimeMachine.
Now, you would like me to work with a PC again ?...
post-scriptum : today is a great Mac day, as I also got my iMac DV SE back - from a friend of mine who don't need it any longer. Guess what : this jewel is 10 years old, and it runs like just out of the box.
That's why I don't like PCs and Windows...
Earlier this week, I've tried to install Ubuntu on my laptop PC - just because I was getting tired of Windows (ever seen a slowing 2GHz CoreDuo ?). The IT guy gave me his so-called official off-the-shelf blahblahblah PartitionMagic CD, for me to partition the hard disk accordingly - I still need Windows for some software demos and apps.
Guess what : got the BSOD right after the reboot. Since then, impossible to repair the damages (don't ask, please), as I couldn't even access to the DOS.
So, yesterday evening I decided to do it the hard way, formatting the hard drive and installing Ubuntu 7.0. Pretty comfortable OS, by the way : I got WiFi up and running in less than 1 minute, and I don't have to re-enter the WEP key each time I wake the machine up.
Now, the really good thing of all this mess : I can get back all my mission-critical files, PDF docs, URLs, etc. Thanks to the lovely Zoho suite, Zoho Projects in particular.
I use Zoho everyday, as my mission planner and database. I put almost everything on it : draft presentations, spreadsheets, web links, PDF documents...
I can now restore my offline base, without fearing files losses.
Outcome : I'll use Zoho Show to create my next presentation.
post-scriptum : I'll install Opera for Ubuntu as soon as I can get rid of those typical Linux messages (missing this, missing that...). So I'll be able to sync my bookmarks and prefs, in the blink of an eye.
CNN Dubai reports :
" High-technology services across large tracts of Asia, the Middle East and North Africa were crippled Thursday following a widespread Internet failure which brought many businesses to a standstill and left others struggling to cope.
Hi-tech Dubai has been hit hard by an Internet outage apparently caused by a cut undersea cable.
Industry experts are blaming damage to two undersea cables but it is not known what caused the damage.
Reports say that Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain Pakistan and India, are all experiencing severe problems.
Nations that have been spared the chaos include Israel -- whose traffic uses a different route -- and Lebanon and Iraq. Many Middle East governments have backup satellite systems in case of cable failure."
As stated by one of the interviewed ISPs, this pretty severe outage is a wake up call for the region. But also for the whole Telecoms industry : it's time to stop lay offs and start lay out new cables. Dear submarine systems makers, you've got a bright future ahead of you !
Just like in the mid-90's, when the big projects such as FLAG and SeaMeWe appeared.
The difference ? Today, there are people at the end of the fiber. Applications. Business. Users.
It's showtime for the real Net Economy, folks !
Wow. This recent post is becoming such a hit that I'll have to update my top-ten most popular list (by the way, does it mean the shorter post the better hit ? ;-)
Here's the comment I left on NyquistCapital earlier today :
"I’m not convinced at all that it would make a lot of sense from a pure industrial perspective. Except a very few boxes in EXFO’ s product lineup, JDSU has it all. No need to add doublons to an already up & runing one-stop-shopping center. Maybe EXFO has some neat new technologies for emerging 40G or else, but JDSU has enough resources to do innovative R&D.
The only reason why JDSU should buy EXFO is to take over their North America installed base (plus a couple of key accounts here and there in EMEA).
Then, the acquisition makes sense. EXFO would be wipped out from the marketplace, full stop. Which would make the T&M landscape a bit more clear : three major players - Agilent, JDSU, Anritsu, plus an emerging one : Fluke/Tek.
The true Telecoms Test Powerhouse is this one : Danaher. Fluke + Tektronix. They cover the whole spectrum, with customer-friendly solutions.
My advice : if there is one single player to watch in the T&M field for the years to come, it’s Danaher."
Let's have a look at the actual financial situation of our two favorites gamble players of the day :
JDSU : $10.41, Market Cap: $ 2.28B (source : Yahoo!Finance)
EXFO : $4.35, Market Cap: $ 300.05M (source : Yahoo!Finance)
EXFO is small enough for JDSU to buy it without that much hurdles. Let's assume the objective of the deal is for JDSU to take over the north american positions (read : customer base - e.g. Verizon) of EXFO. $ 600M the NA marketplace is definitely not a big deal for JDSU's investors.