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.
Educational Resources
sponsor supplied content
Educational Resources Archive
From The Founder
Light Reading sits down at CES with the head of Cisco's service provider video business, Conrad Clemson, to discuss how NFV and cloud security relate to video, the challenge of managing 4K/8K traffic, the global expansion of Netflix and virtual reality.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
CLOUD / MANAGED SERVICES: Prepping Ethernet for the Cloud
Moderator: Ray LeMaistre Panelists: Jeremy Bye, Leonard Sheahan
LRTV Custom TV
Hosting in Ireland, Past & Present

2|10|16   |   16:07   |   (0) comments


Garry Connolly, president of Host in Ireland, presents the keynote at Light Reading's 2020 Vision Executive Summit in Dublin.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
What's Hot in Mobile Commerce?

2|10|16   |   12:18   |   (1) comment


Claire Maslen, financial services relationship manager at the GSMA, talks about the development of the digital commerce sector and the types of relationships that mobile operators are developing to further their m-commerce strategies.
LRTV Documentaries
EANTC Tests Nokia IP Routing & Mobile Gateway VNFs for Real World Deployment

2|9|16   |   5:08   |   (0) comments


Nokia obtained validation of its virtualized router and virtualized mobile gateway capabilities through rigorous testing performed by EANTC. The results set a new industry benchmark for outstanding performance, scalability, resiliency and manageability. Nokia VNFs are ready for telco cloud deployment, so that service providers can accelerate mobile, business and ...
Between the CEOs
CEO Chat With Level 3's Jack Waters

2|8|16   |   26:15   |   (1) comment


Light Reading CEO and founder Steve Saunders sits down with Level 3 Communications' CTO Jack Waters to discuss hot topics like virtualization, 4K and the future of telecom...
LRTV Custom TV
The Composable Telco

2|8|16   |   24:46   |   (0) comments


Heavy Reading's Principal Analyst Caroline Chappell presents the keynote at Light Reading's 2020 Vision Executive Summit in Dublin.
LRTV Custom TV
Join Us at the Digital Operations Transformation Summit

2|4|16   |   03:52   |   (0) comments


The Digital Operations Transformation Summit on February 21, 2016 at the Crowne Plaza Barcelona Fira Centre will bring together 50 senior executives to engage in a unique debate on the opportunities and challenges presented by the transformative evolving digital landscape. RSVP now at events@lightreading.com.
LRTV Custom TV
Making the Test: ADVA Ensemble Connector vs. Open vSwitch

2|4|16   |   01:28   |   (0) comments


Light Reading, in partnership with EANTC, recently tested ADVA's Ensemble Connector, which replaces open vSwitch and offers carrier-grade capability and interoperability. The test results strengthen ADVA's credibility as a provider in the virtualization space.
LRTV Custom TV
Bridging the Gap Between PoCs & Deployment in NFV

2|4|16   |   31:50   |   (0) comments


Charlie Ashton of Wind River presents the keynote at Light Reading's 2020 Vision executive summit in Dublin.
Between the CEOs
CEO Chat With Mike Aquino

2|3|16   |   17:34   |   (0) comments


The former CEO of Overture Networks, Mike Aquino, discusses why truly open virtualization solutions provide service providers with the greatest choice.
Shades of Ray
MWC: Buckle Up for 5G & the IIoT

2|2|16   |   02:28   |   (0) comments


This year's Mobile World Congress looks set to be a 5G land grab and a chance to get down and dirty with the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) – but what will the 5G discussions actually be about?
LRTV Custom TV
Case Study: Building China's Next-Gen TV Networks

2|2|16   |   5:01   |   (0) comments


With over 2 billion viewers worldwide, Shenzhen Media Group is one of China's largest content producers. By partnering with Huawei and Sobey, SZMG was able to modernize media operations with the Converged News Center, a production studio that is a model for next-generation workflows.
LRTV Custom TV
Quad Channel Modulator Driver with 46 Gbaud Capability from MACOM

1|28|16   |     |   (0) comments


MACOM's MAOM-003427 is the industry's first surface-mount modulator driver with 46 Gbaud capability to support next generation 200G and 400G applications.
Upcoming Live Events
March 10, 2016, The Cable Center, Denver, CO
April 5, 2016, The Ritz Carlton, Charlotte, NC
May 23, 2016, Austin, TX
May 24-25, 2016, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
Hot Topics
Google's 5G Radio Ambitions Are Expanding
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 2/5/2016
Cincinnati Bell Joins Weight Watchers Club
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, 2/5/2016
Yahoo & Verizon Sitting in a Tree...
Brian Santo, Senior editor, Test & Measurement / Components, Light Reading, 2/8/2016
Vodafone: Flexible Work Policies Boost Profits
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 2/8/2016
It's Time to Integrate OTT Video
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, 2/8/2016
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Light Reading CEO and founder Steve Saunders sits down with Level 3 Communications' CTO Jack Waters to discuss hot topics like virtualization, 4K and the future of telecom...
The former CEO of Overture Networks, Mike Aquino, discusses why truly open virtualization solutions provide service providers with the greatest choice.
Animals with Phones
Retro Is the Way to Be Click Here
Some animals are too cute for smartphones.
Live Digital Audio

Broadband speeds are ramping up across Europe as the continent, at its own pace, follows North America towards a gigabit society. But there are many steps to take on the road to gigabit broadband availability and a number of technology options that can meet the various requirements of Europe’s high-speed fixed broadband network operators. During this radio show we will look at some of the catalysts for broadband network investments and examine the menu of technology options on offer, including vectoring and G.fast for copper plant evolution and the various deployment possibilities for FTTH/B.