Light Reading

AlcaLu Breathes New Life Into Bell Labs

Ray Le Maistre
12/27/2013
50%
50%

Alcatel-Lucent is determined to make its Bell Labs operation "relevant again" as part of its Shift Plan transformation by aligning the R&D operation's focus with its parent company's strategy, according to the recently appointed president of the labs. (See: Alcatel-Lucent Builds Future Around IP.)

Marcus Weldon, who is also corporate CTO at Alcatel-Lucent, was named Bell Labs president in early November. He outlined his initial plans and thoughts during a news briefing in London in December.

"Bell Labs lost its way in the late 1990s until recently. It didn't really know what to innovate on, because its parent was in flux, as was the industry," said Weldon. "Bell Labs is most successful when it's solving problems, such as the microwave radiation problem."

Alcatel-Lucent CTO and Bell Labs president Marcus Weldon.
Alcatel-Lucent CTO and Bell Labs president Marcus Weldon.

There's no shortage of problems to solve, but it helps that "there is much greater certainty of what this industry is all about, thanks to the convergence of telco and IT networks" and the introduction of software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV).

To help guide the 700 or so people who work at Bell Labs, and to help "reinvent and rejuvenate" the operation, which has a number of sites around the world -- Shanghai, Antwerp, Tel Aviv, as well as New Jersey -- Weldon has drawn up seven "innovation domains" that require focused R&D work:

  • Network capacity
  • Network performance
  • Network optimization
  • Network energy
  • Network security (especially for virtualized applications)
  • Network applications
  • Devices (with a focus on how they connect to and interact with the network, rather than the development of end-user devices such as smartphones and tablets)

That's a broad focus. In fact, Weldon himself said that Bell Labs would be shying away from only two main areas of the communications networking domain: end user devices and IT server blades/processors. But he's determined to get Bell Labs in line with AlcaLu's new trajectory and dealing with the main industry challenges head on. At present, the "alignment on solving big industry challenges is not as strong as I would like."

The new energy behind Bell Labs, and the shift toward the unification of telecom and IT, means Weldon will be looking to add some people to the Bell Labs team, though some will also be lost as part of the Shift Plan layoffs. (See: Alcatel-Lucent to Cut 10,000 Jobs.)

The R&D operation lost people to the web giants in Silicon Valley a decade ago. "We need to hire some people who would otherwise work there. We'll be hiring some talent in that area."

And there may be a more focused approach to development work, aligned around smaller teams. In that respect, Weldon cited Basil Alwan, the head of AlcaLu's IP Division. "Basil says the best R&D team is the smallest one that can get something done," and Alwan's team has built its unarguable success in the past decade around "one piece of software and one chipset." (See: TiMetra at Heart of AlcaLu's Shift.)

— Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

(4)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Liz Greenberg
50%
50%
Liz Greenberg,
User Rank: Light Sabre
1/7/2014 | 7:12:07 PM
Re: Weldon has what it takes
Ray I think making sure that Bell Labs aligns with the overall corporate strategy is the kiss of death for innovation.  Bell Labs greatness came from the tinkerers and thinkers who played with new novel ideas some of which got used sooner. some later, and some not ever.  Remembering the great US company that Bell Labs was is not the French company that AlcaLu is today.  I don't think Weldon is going to do a lot unless he now takes a page from Google Labs and truly lets innovation happen. Come to think of it, maybe Google Labs IS the Bell Labs of today!
Ray@LR
50%
50%
Ray@LR,
User Rank: Blogger
12/29/2013 | 11:26:34 AM
Re: Weldon has what it takes
I think this time the president is more in tune with the overall corporate strategy and that Bell Labs is being asked to be more aligned with that strategy.

The question is - will that approach stifle innovation? Can innovation truly exist in the constraints of a corporate directive? 
^ip4g^
50%
50%
^ip4g^,
User Rank: Lightning
12/28/2013 | 4:11:49 AM
Re: Weldon has what it takes
3rd or 4th chief Bell Labs is seeing in the past couple of years. What's happening at Bell Labs !!!.
Ray@LR
50%
50%
Ray@LR,
User Rank: Blogger
12/27/2013 | 7:04:34 AM
Weldon has what it takes
Weldon has the drive and charisma to inject new life into Bell Labs - the question is whether the engineers respond or not.
Flash Poll
From The Founder
Last week I dropped in on "Hotlanta," Georgia to moderate Light Reading's inaugural DroneComm conference – a unique colloquium investigating the potential for drone communications to disrupt the world's telecom ecosystem. As you will see, it was a day of exploration and epiphany...
LRTV Documentaries
Cable Eyeing SDN for Headend, Home Uses

5|26|15   |   05:57   |   (1) comment


CableLabs is looking at virtualizing CMTS and CCAP devices in the headend, as well as in-home devices, says CableLabs' Karthik Sundaresan.
LRTV Documentaries
Verizon's Emmons: SDN Key to Cost-Effective Scaling

5|22|15   |   03:53   |   (0) comments


For Verizon and other network operators to ramp up available bandwidth cost effectively, they need to move to SDN and agree on how to do that.
LRTV Documentaries
Lack of Universal SDN a Challenge

5|21|15   |   04:51   |   (3) comments


Heavy Reading Analyst Sterling Perrin talks about how uncertainty about SDN standards and approaches may be slowing deployment.
LRTV Custom TV
Steve Vogelsang Interview: Carrier SDN

5|20|15   |   05:02   |   (0) comments


Sterling Perrin speaks to Steve Vogelsang, Alcatel-Lucent CTO for IP Routing & Transport business, about the new Carrier SDN-enabling Network Services Platform and the operator challenges it solves.
LRTV Custom TV
Carrier SDN: On-Demand Networks for an On-Demand World

5|20|15   |   20:52   |   (0) comments


Steve Vogelsang, Alcatel-Lucent CTO for IP Routing & Transport business, talks about requirements and benefits of Carrier SDN during the keynote address at the Light Reading Carrier SDN event May 2015.
LRTV Documentaries
The Security Challenge of SDN

5|19|15   |   02:52   |   (0) comments


CenturyLink VP James Feger discusses concerns that virtualization could create new vulnerabilities unless network operators build in safeguards.
LRTV Custom TV
NFV Elasticity – Highly Available VNF Scale-Out Architectures for the Mobile Edge

5|18|15   |   5:50   |   (0) comments


Peter Marek and Paul Stevens from Advantech Networks and Communications Group talk about their NFV Elasticity initiative and the company's latest platforms for deploying virtual network functions at the edge of the network. Packetarium XL and the new Versatile Server Module: 'designed to reach parts of the network that other servers cannot reach.'
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Bay Area Spark Meetup 2015

5|14|15   |   3:54   |   (0) comments


Developed in 2009, Apache Spark is a powerful open source processing engine built around speed, ease of use and sophisticated analytics. This spring, Huawei hosted a meetup for Spark developers and data scientists in Santa Clara, California. Light Reading spoke with organizers and attendees about Huawei's code contributions and long-term commitment to Spark.
LRTV Custom TV
The Transport SDN Buzz

5|12|15   |   06:01   |   (1) comment


Sterling Perrin, senior analyst at Heavy Reading, speaks with Peter Ashwood-Smith of Huawei and Guru Parulkar of ON.Lab about the evolution of transport SDN and the integration of technologies.
LRTV Custom TV
Next-Generation CCAP: Cisco cBR-8 Evolved CCAP

5|5|15   |   04:49   |   (0) comments


John Chapman, Cisco's CTO of Cable Access Business Unit and Cisco Fellow, explained the innovation design of Cisco's cBR-8, the industry's first Evolved CCAP, including DOCSIS 3.1 design from ground-up, distributed CCAP with Remote PHY and path to virtualization. Cisco's cBR-8 Evolved CCAP is the platform that will last through the transitions.
LRTV Custom TV
Meeting the Demands of Bandwidth & Service Group Growth

5|1|15   |   5:35   |   (0) comments


Jorge Salinger, Comcast's Vice President of Access Architecture, explains how DOCSIS 3.1 and multi-service CCAP can meet the demands of the bandwidth and service group growth.
LRTV Custom TV
DOCSIS 3.1: Transforming Cable From Hardware-Defined Network to Software-Defined Network

4|29|15   |   03:48   |   (0) comments


John Chapman, Cisco's CTO of Cable Access Business Unit and Cisco Fellow, explains how DOCSIS 3.1 can transform cable HFC network to a more agile software-defined network.
Upcoming Live Events
June 8, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 10, 2015, Chicago, IL
September 29-30, 2015, The Westin Grand Müchen, Munich, Germany
October 6, 2015, The Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
October 6, 2015, Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Procera has gathered facts, stats and customer experience feedback from a survey of 540 users from across the globe.
Hot Topics
10 Alternate Uses for Tablets
Eryn Leavens, Copy Desk Editor, 5/22/2015
Bidding War for TWC Looks Likelier
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, 5/22/2015
Comcast Targets 6 New Gigabit Markets
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 5/21/2015
Chattanooga Charts Killer Gigabit Apps
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 5/20/2015
Potholes Lurk in Indian Smart City Project
Gagandeep Kaur, Contributing Editor, 5/22/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
With 200 customers in 60 countries, Stockholm-based Net Insight has carved out a solid leadership position in one of the hottest vertical markets going in comms right now: helping service providers and broadcasters deliver video and other multimedia traffic over IP networks. How has Net Insight managed to achieve this success in the face of immense competition from the industry giants?
My ongoing interview tour of the leading minds of the telecom industry recently took me to Richardson, Texas, where I met with Rod Naphan, CTO and SVP, Solutions, ...
I recently popped down to Texas to chat with CEO Eric L. Pratt about his company, Taqua.
Cats with Phones
Too Fluffy to Talk Click Here
Elmer found that his bountiful fur got in the way of meaningful conversation.