Cisco's Ullal Talks Optical Future

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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gumbydammit 12/4/2012 | 10:45:23 PM
re: Cisco's Ullal Talks Optical Future >> in the near future you spewed forth....

>> So where exactly does the 15454 have market share? How many network elements have they sold?

So you're are saying you have no idea, was it *you* calling someone else here uninformed? I see...

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

dude, I LOVE coffee, don't start....
options still bobbing, but thank you very much for your kind wishes. :-)

>> So will John Chambers give you some of that $21 billion since your stock is worthless?

luckily enough, they used it to back probably the BEST layoff packages ever told, eventhough I personally hope I never get to see one.
God bless CSCO, AND the U.S. of A.

P.S. didn't know you were *that* much fun to antagonize, r u sure you don't like coffee? :-)


Regular Joe 12/4/2012 | 10:45:17 PM
re: Cisco's Ullal Talks Optical Future Dear gd,

You know, if you had just one vowel in your abbreviated name you would be a supreme being. Of course if you had a clue about this issue you would have just one clue -- because otherwise you are just clueless!

My question about market share was rhetorical in nature. I was pointing out to you in a clever way exactly how little market share Cisco actually has in the metro SONET space. By not answering it you have proved my point.

Don't get me wrong... I have nothing against coffee, I just never acquired a taste for it. And am very aware that I am a minority on this issue. The point just made my last post flow better.

On lay-off packages here is a sweat one I heard about first hand. A certain large MSO is restructuring in anticipation their merger/acquisition and offering one year of salary plus bonus as their package.
lackeyluster 12/4/2012 | 10:45:16 PM
re: Cisco's Ullal Talks Optical Future Take her press release for what it is, namely, to support her character and position within the firm.

What has she accomplished, after all, since taking over the position in August...? Alot of Nothing seems to be word echoing through the cubicles and sheet-rock mini-offices in the Valley.

Probably not much else on the horizon too if the Group needs to be justified by PR and not hard numbers.

captain_photon 12/4/2012 | 10:45:15 PM
re: Cisco's Ullal Talks Optical Future Hey Joe - here are some numbers for you: Over 30,000 15454's in service with 700+ customers and growing.
tsunami 12/4/2012 | 10:45:14 PM
re: Cisco's Ullal Talks Optical Future iprsvp,
Regarding your post:
"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. )"

Apparently your name shows where your knowledge rests. Cerent didn't design a swith, it was an OC-48 SONET ADM and a decent one. But it's not Cisco that understood or designed the 15454, it was Cerent while Cisco had the sense to buy it, I doubt they have much understanding of their purchase. Of all the other companies you list, only NT has ever built a SONET ADM, (Ciena bought one also in the Cyras aquistion.) You didn't even list the biggest player in this area, Fujitsu. So quit making noise and post regarding something you understand.
sntwk 12/4/2012 | 10:45:11 PM
re: Cisco's Ullal Talks Optical Future It is mere luck that Ullan was with the enterprise group just around the time CERN and subsequently Netscape came out with the browser. Things just happened and she was at the right place and at the right time.

Cisco sold thousands of Cerent nodes even before Ullal was head of Cisco optical group.

She is going to be again lucky because the next generation telecom network is going to be put in place not by CLECs but by RBOCs. Next few years Ullan is again going to miss numbers.

Everyone of us know that we don't have magic. Things just happen. If someone believes that she/he did magic to grow from 0 to 7B$ that is probably their own narrow view of things. Bottomline be with successful project and things will work for you.
LRfan 12/4/2012 | 10:45:10 PM
re: Cisco's Ullal Talks Optical Future tsunami said:
I doubt they have much understanding of their purchase.

Your view is based on what?
Regular Joe 12/4/2012 | 10:45:07 PM
re: Cisco's Ullal Talks Optical Future CP,

Though your numbers are exagerated by at least 50% just add a zero to yur 30K and you'll see the kind of market share your competition has.
netskeptic 12/4/2012 | 10:45:05 PM
re: Cisco's Ullal Talks Optical Future > Everyone of us know that we don't have magic.
> Things just happen. If someone believes that
> she/he did magic to grow from 0 to 7B$ that is
> probably their own narrow view of things.
> Bottomline be with successful project and
> things will work for you.

Yes, there was an opportunity, lots of people had simply blown it, there were few who rode it well,
$7B means that she is at least an excellent rider.



eyesright 12/4/2012 | 10:45:02 PM
re: Cisco's Ullal Talks Optical Future Most of Cisco's optical products are more like the Corvair. Or as Ralph Nader put it, "Unsafe at Any Speed".

See Pirelli, Monterey, et al....
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