Light Reading

Coriant Counts on NSN's Optical Strengths

Craig Matsumoto

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- OFC/NFOEC -- Coriant, the private company being built around the Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) optical business, doesn't technically exist yet. NSN's deal to sell that business to Marlin Equity Partners has to close first, and that's due to happen by July. In the meantime, though, Coriant is using OFC/NFOEC to introduce itself to analysts and the media. The company set up shop, so to speak, in a boardroom on the fourth floor of the Anaheim Hilton on Monday. Light Reading snagged the first interview appointment and, with it, the first Coriant business card ever handed out by Herbert Merz, the NSN executive who's designated as Coriant's president and CEO.

Merz signed his historical business card, on the condition we wouldn't sell it on eBay
Coriant isn't starting from scratch. It has a portfolio including WDM gear, OTN switching and software, plus more software that Marlin acquired from Sycamore Networks. And it's got some noteworthy customers, such as AT&T Inc. and, as highlighted in a Monday announcement regarding 100Gbit/s transport, TeliaSonera International Carrier (TIC). Coriant will enter a market that hasn't been so kind in terms of margins and profitability. So now what? We only had half an hour, but we got an idea of why Coriant thinks it can become the No. 2 optical vendor and, of course, a player in software-defined networking (SDN). (One note: The executives talk about Coriant's plans in the present tense, but there's a tacit "after the deal closes" in each of those statements.)

Coriant's lead team -- or, they will be, once Coriant gets going. From left: Uwe Fischer, Patrick DiPietro and Herbert Merz
— Craig Matsumoto, Managing Editor, Light Reading
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Craig Matsumoto
Craig Matsumoto,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/20/2013 | 11:37:14 PM
re: Coriant Counts on NSN's Optical Strengths
Amusing: Talked to 2 analysts who say they had this exact conversation with Coriant.

Some of that's to be expected -- Coriant has a message to deliver, after all, and some of my questions are the same anyone would ask.-á But apparently they're sticking very close to that message.
Craig Matsumoto
Craig Matsumoto,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/20/2013 | 4:24:45 PM
re: Coriant Counts on NSN's Optical Strengths
-áDon't forget the year-plus qualification cycle, during which you get to sit and wait.-á :)

I'd disagree about Cisco avoiding the sector. I think they want to be big in telecom, and they've reignited their interest in optical to go with that.
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/19/2013 | 3:17:37 PM
re: Coriant Counts on NSN's Optical Strengths
The only problem Telco suppliers have is Telco's themselves. -á They entice you to design new products and they always want the next one because they don't have any competition to force them to buy the one you just designed. -á That is why Cisco avoids this sector like the plague. -áThis will be another failure on a string of failures.
Gabriel Brown
Gabriel Brown,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/19/2013 | 2:54:42 PM
re: Coriant Counts on NSN's Optical Strengths
Good interview. Thanks. I was interested in how it, indirectly, addressed valuations
of telecom vendors, the role of private equity, and M&A...

I know LR's always talked about this, but the discussion is evolving with the market.

Didn't agree with how dismissive he was about RAN swap outs. It's very obviously not
the case that operators change RAN vendors after two years. There's lock-in (commitment to a decision) there too, albeit of a different nature.
Craig Matsumoto
Craig Matsumoto,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/19/2013 | 2:29:57 PM
re: Coriant Counts on NSN's Optical Strengths
I can understand the skepticism. I kind of feel it too. One of Coriant's points is that a lot of the uncertainty and pain around NSN has been on the wireless side, and they're free of that now.

Of course, the optical side comes with its own uncertainty and pain.-á :)

Being the #2 player sounds awfully ambitious, although admittedly, market share is so spread out in optical that it might be easier than I think.-á At any rate - they do talk big, and I think they know it's not going to be as easy as they make it sound.-á One key would be to keep the R&D going, and of course DiPietro/Marlin know that.
User Rank: Lightning
3/19/2013 | 1:25:11 PM
re: Coriant Counts on NSN's Optical Strengths
These guys talk big, but are not realistic. -áThey will fail. -áI can't see how anyone would buy from them.
User Rank: Light Beer
3/19/2013 | 12:58:52 PM
re: Coriant Counts on NSN's Optical Strengths
How could they possibly be competitive to Ciena, Huawei, Alcatel, and Infinera?
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