I've just learned that french fiber optics expert Alain Oudet passed away last sunday. Alain was well-known and highly respected in the french optical communications industry. Together with Regis Trouart and Patrick Desprez, Alain started TDO (Trouart Desprez Oudet), the very first fiber optics training company in the country, back in 1986. In the early 90's, TDO, AMP (now Tyco) and Alcatel (now AlcatelLucent) launched Le Club Optique, a counter-initiative to the famous CREDO created by the cable manufacturer Acome and hardware maker Pouyet (now 3M Telecoms).
Alain and myself never been real "buddies". First of all, I wasn't part of his "inner-circle". Then, we've been pure rivals when I run my own firm, XWinG. Provided that in 1995, after 2 years of operation only, XWinG was taking over the installed base of TDO, thanks to a nice WOM marketing. Last, Regis Trouart joined me as associate in 1994 : it didn't help improving our relationships at all...
In 1997, we were #1 on the market. That pushed TDO to move to another business : fiber networks expertise. Alain quickly became a master of OTDR and dispersions measurements, gaining a pretty strong reputation on the fiber characterization services business in France and other parts of Europe.
As I joined HP/Agilent as a regular employee mid '98, I lost contact with Alain and TDO. When I came back to the french marketplace two years ago, Alain was still the same : smiling, engaging, and... smoking.
I don't know what TDO is going to become now that its leader is gone. Not my business, after all (actually, not exactly true : I'm in the fiber optics training business too. But I don't consider TDO as a rival any longer : we're not on the same page, simple as that). I just know why I haven't met Alain in the alleys of Odebit or the Telecoms Forum in Paris last week.