On the Job – With Mumford & Pals

LR: Nortel has announced some pretty huge wins for its softswitching and voice-over-IP solutions. I think that’s interesting, because people have been talking about the inevitable migration of voice from circuit-switched networks over data networks for years and it just never seemed to happen. Is it happening now?

Mumford: Is packetization happening? In some circumstances. But there are two different types of deployments. One is when a carrier builds a new network. And that’s not happening as much as anyone would like these days. The other is if an incumbent is upgrading its network, and they decide that it’s a good idea to invest in the technology – which is what Sprint did. But it’s very important when someone is making that decision – packetize or not – that you don’t present them with an either/or choice. You need to allow them the ability to upgrade at their own pace, without a complete overhaul, and not all at once. And that’s what we do, with both our service provider and our enterprise products, which let companies upgrade to packet voice workgroup by workgroup, if they feel like it. Everything we offer is compatible with TDM.

LR: How do you keep people motivated to make good products during a downturn?

Mumford: At a product company you have to make sure that you have an innovation engine. That’s part of my role. And Nortel let’s me do that. We did this by putting the product development into the business units, because having it centralized, like at Bell Labs or BNR, keeps it too far from the customer. We also have an investment board.

LR: Who’s on it?

Mumford: I am, and the three leadership category presidents.

LR: What if you can’t agree on a technology direction?

Mumford: It’s not a democracy, but usually reasonable people can agree.

[At this point we get stuck in a traffic jam. After a few minutes, the PR person driving decides to take a short – albeit somewhat illegal – detour, via a bus lane.]

PR person [seeing unidentified person standing by side of freeway up ahead]: Oh, is that a cop? [Attempts to nudge back into jam. Mumford and the Light Reading editor don’t like this move one bit.]

Mumford [to PR person]: No, no, you’ve committed yourself now.

LR: Yeah, go for it!

[The PR person obliges, and a police officer, who is, disappointingly, not dressed in traditional Mountie garb, promptly steps into the road and calls a halt to this nonsense.]

PR person: Sugar!

Police officer: I need your driver’s license. You’re in a bus lane.

PR person: Sorry.

[A passable imitation of “Let’s Make a Deal” follows, the result of which is the PR person gets a ticket, but no points on her license. The Light Reading editor resists the temptation to ask the police officer the whereabouts of her horse. We drive on and Mumford complains about how the police officer was nicer to the PR person than she would have been to him.]

PR person: Well, she was a woman, Greg.

Mumford [laughing]: We won’t get into any stereotypes here, and before you ask, no, you can’t put your ticket on expenses.

[We return to the main Nortel campus.]

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xos 12/4/2012 | 9:11:06 PM
re: On the Job – With Mumford & Pals A quick question -

Does Nortel have a reseller arrangement for Juniper's routers ??

xos 12/4/2012 | 9:11:06 PM
re: On the Job – With Mumford & Pals I will like to complement the guys at LR on a very interesting and well written article. Enjoyed reading it. A light hearted take on a company trying to ride out the telecom bust..

good work guys

MarauderNow 12/4/2012 | 9:10:55 PM
re: On the Job – With Mumford & Pals Just to clear things up... That cop, the one from the buslane, was very likely an Ontario Provincial Police officer. Here in Ottawa we're lucky enough to be served by four different sets of police... the Ottawa-Carleton Police (municipal), the Ontario Provincial Police (provincial), the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (national) and the Canadian Military Police (national). They've each got their own "jurisdictions" so to speak... and the that bus lane was in OPP territory... so of course the police officer wasn't on a horse... she was OPP... :)
opti 12/4/2012 | 9:10:52 PM
re: On the Job – With Mumford & Pals First of all a very amusing article editor.

It shouldn't come as a surprise the attitude of the people at Nortel. They are focused, determined and very enjoyable to work with. I worked as a student and it was a very worthwhile experience to work with such a dedicated group of individuals who take pride in what they do.
silenceofthelambdas 12/4/2012 | 9:10:51 PM
re: On the Job – With Mumford & Pals Regarding the fine chronicle [1] of your day in the life of NortelG«÷s CTO and LR Ambassador:

I congratulate you on this engaging and informative piece of investigative journalism. At a time when telecom investors have been left aghast after peering into the terrifying well of company valuation metrics, along comes an exposition that re-ignites ones faith that NT will return to being a G«ˇblue-chipG«÷ property (as opposed to its recent G«ˇbrown chipG«÷ [2] hue). The wild Rav4 drive confirms that this company is again aggressively on the move (albeit in the bus lane), re-defining the rules of the new economy. If it is road-based, NT looks well-positioned, provided they can fix their poorly-timed policing devices (sorry, couldnG«÷t resist).

More striking however, was the articleG«÷s superb combination of technological disclosure, personality profiling, cultural study, informative sidebars and erudite conclusions, to make this the G«ˇlandmark articleG«÷ of the LR holiday season, and a G«ˇmust-readG«÷ (feedback welcome [3]). I hope that thereG«÷s a coffee-table hardback on the way. A cup-stain around MarcoG«÷s dome may be his only chance to look like a saint (his penance being incomplete following the OPC/Avici/Bay adventure).

IG«÷ll come clean G«Ű I find most articles on technology a bit dry [4] and their perspectives indefinite, leaving no long-term impression behind to enrich my life [5]. Often, I have to wait until someone with greater perspicacity [6] interprets the article so that I can gain a deeper appreciation for its subtle truths.
Not so with this piece!

Since the dawn of time [7], mankind has struggled in vain to understand what creates the spark of creative genius that can lead to a landmark invention [8], a medical miracle [9], a record-destroying athletic performance [10], a brilliant musical opus [11], or masterpiece of literature [12].
After reading and re-reading your captivating G«ˇtour de forceG«÷ on Mumford [13] and Nortel [14], I think the inspiration must be something in the water up there that is agreeable to LR [15].
Convinced of this conclusion, IG«÷m hopping on the next dogsled to Ottawa.
Keep smiling.

[1] http://www.lightreading.com/do...
[2] http://dictionary.reference.co...
[3] http://www.pulitzer.org/Entry_...
[4] http://www.fragapalooza.com/ph...
[5] http://www.capitalsearch.net/f...
[6] http://www.lightreading.com/do...
[7] http://home.discoversandiego.c...
[8] http://school.discovery.com/cl...
[9] http://www.keithrichards.com/
[10] http://www.hoophall.com/exhibi...
[11] http://www.spinaltap.com/mp3s....
[12] http://www.lightreading.com/bo...
[13] http://www.rottentomatoes.com/...
[14] http://www.nortelnetworks.com/...
[15] http://www.counterpunch.org/pi...
MrLight 12/4/2012 | 9:10:46 PM
re: On the Job – With Mumford & Pals Entertaining maybe, but a little bit more informative material would have made for a safer read. I almost fell out of my chair reading this article. Who knows how many readers actually did, and as a result were mildly injured in the fall.

I hope LR will do pieces on visits with the Lucentonian, Alcatelian, and Cisconian CTOs in the same humorous vein.

On the statement - "apparently a G«£snow backG«• is a Canadian engineer hired by U.S. startups to impress customers". Is that for real?

And in regards to " a Nortel exec last week told Light Reading that equivalent bonuses are out of the question at Nortel until the company meets its goal of a return to profitability. Makes sense to us." I hope so.

MrLight ;-]]]
testdude 12/4/2012 | 9:10:45 PM
re: On the Job – With Mumford & Pals Yes Nortel does still resell the Juniper. This was apparently a stop gap measure back in the hey day when OPC was being developed. But when it got canned, the Juniper stop gap became a long term reseller agreement.

If you go into the nortel webpage and search for juniper it comes up.

zhadum 12/4/2012 | 9:10:37 PM
re: On the Job – With Mumford & Pals Good job. Hilarious sidebars on the accompanying links (and some informative info on the engineering rings!).

Cant wait to read similar articles on Lucent (can only hope Janet Davison has some time to spare) and Cisco (ditto with Jayshree)!!

slayer666 12/4/2012 | 9:10:32 PM
re: On the Job – With Mumford & Pals nenene66

Take a pill...3500 is a metro box and has 16 lambdas...that is DWDM no ?...going to 32. At least LR still cover your industry, which is more than most press, which believes the industry has disappeared completely...MSP...thas a TLA...you must be from Nortel. Grow Up! HAHAHAHAHA
boston beans 12/4/2012 | 9:10:30 PM
re: On the Job – With Mumford & Pals Just curious...

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