NFV Strategies

Gorti to Pull the NFV Strings at Alcatel-Lucent

Bhaskar Gorti, Alcatel-Lucent's incoming president of IP Platforms, will have a general responsibility for his new employer's NFV strategy, including control of the important CloudBand unit, the vendor has confirmed.

Gorti, who is best known for running the Communications industry unit at Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL) for the past eight years, was earlier this week unveiled as Alcatel-Lucent's lead executive for cloud, NFV, OSS, policy management and charging, customer experience management and security: That's a big role at a company that is placing increasing importance on cloud and NFV market leadership for its future success. (See AlcaLu Hires Oracle Big Hitter.)

But while he has plenty of experience in the BSS and OSS sectors, where he can certainly bring a lot of experience and contacts to Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), there are questions about whether he has the right experience to be handling the vendor's overall NFV strategy.

In response to questions from Light Reading, Alcatel-Lucent has confirmed that Gorti will coordinate the cross-portfolio NFV strategy at the vendor and be responsible for CloudBand, the well-regarded NFV platform that has built a significant ecosystem of industry partners and which has attracted a lot of interest from network operators. (See KT Plans NFV Shift With AlcaLu, Let's Federate Our NFV Labs – Telefónica and How Alcatel-Lucent Set a Telco Cloud Example .)

What Gorti will not manage, though, are the individual virtual network functions (VNFs) coming from Alcatel-Lucent's various product units. That means Basil Alwan's IP & Transport division will control the emerging virtual router platform announced late last year, while head of wireless Dave Geary will be responsible for the virtual radio access network (vRAN) elements offered by the vendor. (See Alcatel-Lucent Joins Virtual Router Race.)

Gorti will have direct control of the virtual network functions that come under the IP Portfolio unit, which includes virtualized IMS (IP Multimedia Subsystem) functions.

There seems little doubt amongst industry watchers that Gorti will be a loss to Oracle and that he brings BSS and OSS strengths to Alcatel-Lucent, but there is some caution about his NFV credentials.

Gorti's exit leaves a major gap for Oracle. "He was the leader of Oracle Communications Global Business Unit and with Oracle trying hard to position itself in NFV and SDN, his exit will be felt," says Ari Banerjee, principal analyst, Service Provider IT, at Heavy Reading .

"He is a good hire for Alcatel-Lucent as it has lost some of its key [NFV] executives in recent months and has not generated much revenue from its NFV and SDN initiatives. However, will Bhaskar, who is an old school BSS/OSS guy, but not a virtualization or NFV expert by any stretch, be able to generate new revenues for AlcaLu?" asks Banerjee.

The NFV executives that Alcatel-Lucent has lost recently, as referred to by Banerjee, are Dor Skuler, who bowed out late last year, and CloudBand CTO David Amzallag, who left just recently, Light Reading has learned. (See AlcaLu Losing Key NFV Exec.)

For more NFV-related coverage and insights, check out our dedicated NFV content channel here on Light Reading.

While it's possible that NFV is not his main strength, the telecom software sector is Gorti's heartland and it's here that he could have an impact at Alcatel-Lucent, believes Heavy Reading's principal analyst for service provider cloud and SDN/NFV, Caroline Chappell.

"This is about Alcatel-Lucent beefing up its disparate set of Motive assets, including its new Motive Dynamic Operations OSS and extensive CEM portfolio, into a next-generation B/OSS suite that could rival those from Oracle, Amdocs, NEC/Netcracker, Ericsson/Telcordia and Huawei," states Chappell. "As Alcatel-Lucent is also currently the market-leading NFV MANO [management and orchestration] vendor, it is seizing the opportunity NFV represents to transform network operations and needs to have all the 'big picture' pieces in place -- and the right leadership -- to deliver a next-generation network management story," she adds. (See AlcaLu Virtualizes Mobile Malware Security, Alcatel-Lucent, Accenture Form Customer Care Unit and Alcatel-Lucent Unveils New OSS Strategy.)

So what about Oracle? How is it feeling about losing its long-standing Communications group leader? The company says it isn't commenting just now on the issue or about who will step into Gorti's shoes.

The other main individual affected by Gorti's appointment is Andrew McDonald, who was the incumbent president of IP Platforms at AlcaLu. The vendor says he is "exploring some initiatives internally," a phrase that could be interpreted in many different ways.

— Ray Le Maistre, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

CaliforniaMan 1/22/2015 | 3:28:21 PM
Re: Should an IP Platform Chief be a NFV specialist? I  worked with and then for Bhaskar for more than a decade and can attest to his visionary leadership, his skill in attracting and motivating a diversity of management talent, and delivering results.  Oracle will find it very difficult to replace Bhaskar and I'm 100% sure he'll do wonders at ALU.


Mitch Wagner 1/15/2015 | 2:55:55 PM
Re: Should an IP Platform Chief be a NFV specialist? It's increasingly difficult to separate NFV and SDN. Having oversight for one and not the other could prove problematic, particularly as Gorti doesn't even have oversight for all NFV.
[email protected] 1/15/2015 | 11:55:48 AM
Re: Should an IP Platform Chief be a NFV specialist? That's the great thing about us humans -- even we don't know what we might do next and/or why.

But he is not  a rash guy - he is a thinker. he knows what he is doing.

Also, he had been at Oracle for a long time and everyone needs a new challenge at some point right?

In addition, I am sure he would not have joined ALU a year ago but now the company is on the upturn again so this is a more exciting time to be part of its next chapter.

And he sialready in the door - his profile is already up on the management page



bosco_pcs 1/15/2015 | 10:05:03 AM
Re: Should an IP Platform Chief be a NFV specialist? Ray:

I guess it comes down to the person's character - maybe those who have inside scoop about Oracle or Alcatel can drop us some hints! 

Just to be clear, being a specialist in some area has some benefits. Whoever working for Mr Gorti in the area in which he has intimate knowledge will be on their toes. At the very least, they will have to triple check their presentation deck before trying to sell their boss the idea.

Also, I think it is a matter of the job position and the size of the company. For example, I decided to invest in Ixia because of Bethany Mayer's reputation. But Ixia and Alcatel are very different company

IMHO, the real question is why Mr Gorti chose to go from Oracle to Alcatel, even if it is the latter reaching out. My guess is maybe he felt he has hit the ceiling and Alcatel has greater potential for him (but this is just one of the many scenarios). If so, then I doubt he would play favorite because he is looking for a bigger prize
[email protected] 1/15/2015 | 6:26:48 AM
Re: Should an IP Platform Chief be a NFV specialist? Good point, of course -- it will work if ALU has a good reporting structure and a culture of trust within the teams.

And that is an interesting suggestion that being a specialist could be counter-productive!! I would be very intersted if others share that view.

If that is the case, though, does that mean he might micromanage/play favorite in the B/OSS area where he has years of experience and insight from his Oracle days?

R Clark 1/15/2015 | 4:45:34 AM
Irony Interesting move, and a touch ironic that the new NFV guy doesn't have much of a NFV record. I guess his strength is in platforms and, as Caroline says, his ability to deal with whole telecom IT backend, not to mention his relationships with key OSS guys at the telcos.
bosco_pcs 1/14/2015 | 2:57:55 PM
Should an IP Platform Chief be a NFV specialist? Ray:

I wonder if Mr Gorti needs to be a NFV specialist to be the president of ALU's IP Platform. 

Obviously, he needs to know what he is doing and how to allocate resources. However, an argument can be made that being a specialist can actually be counterproductive if he ends up in micromanaging or playing favorite in one facet of the division.

Instead, the questions are if 1) he is a visionary leader; 2) he can manage his direct reports well; 3) attract talents and 4) fit well within the greater scheme of things at ALU. 

So his character and his experience in general are more relevant than the technical know-how. More importantly, he will need to not only play fair but also convince others, his boss, peers and subordinates alike his strategy, even if it may require cannabilizing some pieces of his domain to allocate more resources to others for the long term good
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