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Cisco's Ullal Talks Optical Future

Light Reading
OFC/NFOEC News Analysis
Light Reading
3/21/2002

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- OFC 2002 -- It's a tough job and she's going to do it.

That's the impression one gets from speaking to Jayshree Ullal, Cisco Systems Inc.'s (Nasdaq: CSCO) group VP of optical networking. Ullal took the post in August 2001 after Cisco restructured its management team and when her predecessor, Carl Russo, took on a more strategic role (see Reorg Rips Through Cisco's Ranks).

Ullal came to Cisco after it acquired Crescendo Communications in 1993. She eventually took on the role of VP and general manager of Cisco's enterprise business, where the LAN switching business grew from $0 in 1993 to a $7 billion annual run rate in 2000.

In 2000, Ullal went on a nine-month sabbatical. She returned to Cisco in 2001 to work on a stealth project until the company restructured. Since she's taken on her new role, Ullal says she's resigned from the several startup company board positions that she had held.

So why did Cisco give the job of getting its optical products to carriers to someone who used to sell LAN gear to enterprises? Ullal says she sees optical networking as a new market and her forte is taking advantage of new markets. "In 1993, it wasn't obvious that Cisco would be the enterprise [switching] leader. It took about four years of heavy lifting for that to happen. It's the same situation here.

"I've gained a reputation within Cisco as someone who can't hit her forecasts. Whenever I'd put out a forecast [in LAN switching business], we always exceeded it. I'd like to have that problem here."

Ullal also came to Cisco with an acquisition and has helped it acquire other companies. Hmmm, let's see... What might that mean?

On the subject of expansion, Ullal says Cisco is committed to the metro core space, though it doesn't currently have a product offering there to compete with Ciena Corp.'s (Nasdaq: CIEN) CoreDirector. "There's a whole evolution going on in that space to multiservice switching and grooming capabilities. We look forward to participating in that evolution either through internal development, externally [via acquisitions], or through a combination of both." (See Cisco's Appetite for Startups Shifts.)

Of course, the subject of carrier spending came up. Ullal's take is in line with the rest of the industry's constant temperature taking. "I can't define for you how short term [the carrier spending drought] is. For optical networking and for Cisco, 2002 is a rebuilding year."

Ullal says Ciena's pending merger with ONI Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: ONIS) makes "textbook sense... Ciena has a great presence in the core and ONI has a good presence in metro DWDM. But time will tell whether the textbook sense translates into textbook execution... Ciena's and ONI's emphasis is on transport. But the carriers are emphasizing delivery of multiple services."

Cisco CEO John Chambers has said Cisco aspires to be number one or number two in all the markets in which it competes. Ullal draws a distinction between those areas where Cisco aims to be number one and those where it still needs to complete its portfolio. "Do we want to be number one or number two in the metro, next-generation Sonet space? Absolutely. We think we're already there. Do we want to be number one or two in the metro DWDM space? Absolutely. There the definition is changing from pure point products to multiservice DWDM products.

"Do I think we can be number one in the long-haul anytime soon? No. Given the condition of the market right now, we'd rather be number one or two in the hot new markets, such as the metro product areas. In the long haul, it is less about being number one or two and more about completing our portfolio. Our product may be number one or two, but we're pragmatic about being the top one in market share, unless we start building line cards for Lucent and Ciena."

Ullal took on a couple of rumors that had been circulating about Cisco. She says the company has no investment in Calix Networks, an optical access company where Cisco's Russo is chairman of the board.

She also confirmed that many of Cisco's metro products are indeed named after car engines. (The ONS 15454, for instance, was named for Chevy's 454 motor.) "I love it. It shows that [the developers] have a passion that goes beyond technology."

Even many of the product code names have links to the automotive world, Ullal says. The recent four-port Gigabit Ethernet line card for the ONS 15454, for instance, was code-named "Carrera."

"Would I have done that? No. But I'll go with the flow."

— Phil Harvey, Senior Editor, Light Reading
http://www.lightreading.com For more information on OFC 2002, please visit: www.nottheofc.com

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Regular Joe
Regular Joe
12/4/2012 | 10:45:43 PM
re: Cisco's Ullal Talks Optical Future
Ullal draws a distinction between those areas where Cisco aims to be number one and those where it still needs to complete its portfolio. "Do we want to be number one or number two in the metro, next-generation Sonet space? Absolutely. We think we're already there."
-------------------------------------------------
She must be sniffing the nitrous oxide from those high powered automobile engines they have up there in Cisco's development labs...
bitdropper
bitdropper
12/4/2012 | 10:45:42 PM
re: Cisco's Ullal Talks Optical Future
Why would they name a nimble little metro small block after the biggest performance engine GM every built? :)
cyber_techy
cyber_techy
12/4/2012 | 10:45:40 PM
re: Cisco's Ullal Talks Optical Future
LR> In 2000, Ullal went on a nine-month sabbatical.

Does this sabbatical come under FMLA?
iprsvp
iprsvp
12/4/2012 | 10:45:39 PM
re: Cisco's Ullal Talks Optical Future

She knows exactly what the world is looking for!
Now I know why CISCO is so strong.!

"Do we want to be number one or number two in the metro, next-generation Sonet space? Absolutely. We think we're already there. Do we want to be number one or two in the metro DWDM space? Absolutely. There the definition is changing from pure point products to multiservice DWDM products.

"Do I think we can be number one in the long-haul anytime soon? No. Given the condition of the market right now, we'd rather be number one or two in the hot new markets, such as the metro product areas. In the long haul, it is less about being number one or two and more about completing our portfolio"
Regular Joe
Regular Joe
12/4/2012 | 10:45:37 PM
re: Cisco's Ullal Talks Optical Future
Because they say the right things to the press?

Because their executives are out of touch with the markets they claim to be leading?

What exactly about Ms. Ullal's statements led you to believe that they wer in fact strong in any market other than routing?
tsunami
tsunami
12/4/2012 | 10:45:35 PM
re: Cisco's Ullal Talks Optical Future
"She knows exactly what the world is looking for!
Now I know why CISCO is so strong.!"

Do you get paid by Cisco to post such drivel -sounds like pure PR.
gumbydammit
gumbydammit
12/4/2012 | 10:45:27 PM
re: Cisco's Ullal Talks Optical Future

Joe, go back to drinking your Nortel java, or would you care to explain how the 15454 doesn't *really* have any market share? Its all in dreamland, right?

Hey any good PR is *great* PR nowadays. I hope Jayshree does exactly the same thing in the optical space for CSCO, thats what they need.

Could $21B in cash help change your mind? :-)

/gd.
Regular Joe
Regular Joe
12/4/2012 | 10:45:24 PM
re: Cisco's Ullal Talks Optical Future
By virtue of the fact that you refer to the 15454 as a "switch" leads me to believe that you don't understand "the facts"as you term them, optical equipment in general, or the metro market either.

Based on that I am assuming that you must be a Cisco ONS sales person.
Regular Joe
Regular Joe
12/4/2012 | 10:45:24 PM
re: Cisco's Ullal Talks Optical Future
So where exactly does the 15454 have market share?

How many network elements have they sold?

I don't drink coffee, can't stand Nortel, and hope your Cisco options aren't too far underwater.

So will John Chambers give you some of that $21 billion since your stock is worthless?
iprsvp
iprsvp
12/4/2012 | 10:45:24 PM
re: Cisco's Ullal Talks Optical Future
The good thing about her statement was
1. She understands the fact that ULH is nothing in the short term.
2. CSCO has all the time in the world just to make their product portfolio complete.
3. Metro is the "core" of today's market.
4. Of course cerent switch rocks where ever it goes. no ? about it!

How many other players understand these facts.!
Not NT, not CORV, not SCMR, not CIEN, not siemens, not movaz and the list goes on...
( Of course cien did two really cool moves in the last few days. ONIS and equip. )
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