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Nortel Bets on Mumford

D.G. (Greg) Mumford has been appointed chief technology officer at Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT), in a move that clearly puts optical networking at the top of Nortel's priority list (see Mumford Named Nortel CTO).

"I'm really excited," Mumford says. "Technology is a key focal point for Nortel."

The news is the highlight of the latest executive deck-shuffle at Nortel, taking place just weeks after ex-CFO Frank Dunn took the reins from retiring CEO John Roth (see Nortel Swings Axe, Switches CEOs).

Greg MumfordMumford is a tough-talking career Nortel vet who enjoys taking a spin on a Harley and clearly relishes Nortel's past leadership in the optical market (see Greg Mumford). He has led the company's optical long-haul networking strategy for the last several years (see The Top Ten Movers and Shakers in Optical Networking page 4, Nortel's Mumford Addresses NFOEC, and Nortel's Got a Plan). He is succeeded in that post by Brian McFadden, who's moving over from the presidency of the Metropolitan Optical division.

Nortel's other two product divisions continue with leadership unchanged: Frank Plastina remains president of Metropolitan and Enterprise Networks; and Pascal Debon is president of Wireless. McFadden, Plastina, and Debon, like Mumford, report to CEO Dunn.

Mumford, 55, is the second fulltime CTO to take the post after the departure of William R. Hawe under a cloud last February (see Nortel CTO Quits as Woes Mount). Nortel veteran Jules Meunier quietly took the job when Hawe left, but kept a profile so low as to be virtually invisible to outsiders. He subsequently left the company in November.

Mumford's job won't be easy. The promotion puts him in an even hotter management seat than he's already in, in a company that's clearly in hot water. Management changes, plus deep layoffs, have left Nortel wounded and demoralized.

Indeed, one of Mumford's chief priorities, he says, will be to help create a "sense of community" among the technology personnel at Nortel -- no easy task in a company that's lost over 50 percent of its workforce in one year.

Mumford has technological challenges too. He's taking his post at a crucial juncture -- when Nortel is about to release its pivotal Optera Connect HDX, a product Mumford oversaw and which is set to be key to Nortel's future.

It's also a product that's late to market -- so late that Ciena Corp. (Nasdaq: CIEN), against whose CoreDirector the HDX is aimed, has expressed confidence it won't be as big a threat as it might have been earlier on (see Ciena Casts Cloud Over 2002).

Mumford isn't apologizing. Instead, he asserts that added developments have strengthened the HDX's value proposition. "It's ready to go now... It's ready to scale. It can support 10-Gbit/s Ethernet, DWDM, ultra-long-reach, and 40-Gbit/s as customers start making decisions to deploy that."

Despite all this, Nortel's marketing machinery isn't giving any further information about general delivery of the box. "When we have something to announce, we'll say so," a spokesperson says.

None of this is keeping Mumford or other Nortel execs from characterizing the HDX as a linchpin in Nortel's future strategy. "The HDX is what brings the optical long-haul network and metro together," says Marco Pagani, the newly appointed president of Metro Optical, a subset of Plastina's Metro and Enterprise division.

Mumford clearly sees the HDX as key to boosting Nortel's ailing long-haul market, which has taken hit after hit this year (see Nortel Dogged by Competitors), most recently at Qwest Communications International Inc. (NYSE: Q) (see What's Behind Qwest's Numbers?).

Besides HDX, Mumford has plenty of other things on his "to do" list. Here's what he's got to say on some other key topics:

  • On 10-Gbit/s Ethernet: "I think Ethernet is key to real network performance. Its full value is not yet realized. A lot of its potential is not tapped."

  • On wireless technology: "Wireless has become more important... but in the last mile, we will continue to see scaleable landline as optical, and we'll see how ADSL does for the rest... Wireless [in the last mile] is a niche technology and will stay a niche."

  • On the return of carrier spending: "I won't speculate on that. Clearly, as carriers go through the transition from voice to data, paying the freight, they'll need products that scale and help get costs down."

  • On Nortel's layoffs and financial condition: "Everything we've had to say has been said and is printed in press releases... Where the company is today has all been published. Nortel is very broadly based. Some of our technologies, including wireless and optical Ethernet, have been leading and have really changed how carriers look at their cost structures... My work will be to make sure we continue the breakthroughs."


— Mary Jander, Senior Editor, Light Reading
http://www.lightreading.com
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Litewave 12/4/2012 | 7:25:09 PM
re: Nortel Bets on Mumford Author: Belzebutt
The quote was just meant to be humorous,...


I know. I do realize you were trying to be humorous.

Nevertheless, since you brought it up, there are infact incredible parallels between Nortel's HDX and SHT;
- both are/were incredibly hyped,
- the makers of both think it'll change the world,
- the makers of both think they can unseat the market Gorilla (cars/your guess ;-)
- both are too expensive for their target markets,
- both smell bad? (okay okay, that was a joke ;-)

I think Ginger will do well, most people I talk to want one. You say it "is" a flop, how can that be,..

*Heh heh*, now you're really making me laugh. I can just picture people riding on one to work... oh yaaah, suuure.

ps: I don't suppose you ever heard of Clive Sinclair and his C5? SHT is C5 part deux! ;-)
Belzebutt 12/4/2012 | 7:25:19 PM
re: Nortel Bets on Mumford So, you're implying that the HDX will be as big a flop as Ginger is?! I think so too! :-)

The quote was just meant to be humorous, but for the record I think Ginger will do well, most people I talk to want one. You say it "is" a flop, how can that be, it's not even out yet, and it won't reach the mainstream for a while.
manoflalambda 12/4/2012 | 7:25:22 PM
re: Nortel Bets on Mumford Speaking of the HDX and potential delays, any word on how the PX is doing?

Salute,
Manoflalambda
Litewave 12/4/2012 | 7:25:23 PM
re: Nortel Bets on Mumford Author: Belzebutt
This HDX will change our lives. Cities will be built around it. You don't need to convince people to get this....it will just happen.


So, you're implying that the HDX will be as big a flop as Ginger is?! I think so too! :-)

ps: For those of you wondering, Belzebutt's quote was originally attributed to Dean Kamen's SHT - Segway Human Transporter

http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/n...
Belzebutt 12/4/2012 | 7:25:24 PM
re: Nortel Bets on Mumford This HDX will change our lives. Cities will be built around it. You don't need to convince people to get this....it will just happen.
Litewave 12/4/2012 | 7:25:24 PM
re: Nortel Bets on Mumford Author: Belzebutt
selling something bigger than what most people think is needed, just like OC-192 back in its day.


Thats quite amusing actually. Do you think thats really Nortel's strategy? If so, they're in for some serious dissapointment.

The OC-192 market success/penetration was driven by the fact that the Internet had just gone commercial, and traffic patterns were spiralling out of control.

None of us can predict the future (me included), but the current circumstances are quite different, I think we all agree.

It's a risk but it could pay off big.

Well, what you're forgetting is that Nortel is not the only vendor who know how to build systems that scale.

Just look at Tellium, or Bright Link, or even Ciena - they all scale (much more granularly, mind you) than whats known of the HDX todate.
Belzebutt 12/4/2012 | 7:25:25 PM
re: Nortel Bets on Mumford I think a smaller version of the HDX would make sense, but I don't know of any such product. Maybe the big heads are betting on selling something bigger than what most people think is needed, just like OC-192 back in its day. It's a risk but it could pay off big.
LightCycle 12/4/2012 | 7:25:26 PM
re: Nortel Bets on Mumford > When will Nortel ever learn - not to put a Rolls
> Royce out in a market that needs a Porche - lean
> and mean, not big and dumb, silly!

Well, maybe not - word on the street is that there are too many problems with the HDX (hence the continued delay), and that what will make an interim appearance (first half of 2002) is a souped-up DX instead.

Anyone know better?
Litewave 12/4/2012 | 7:25:27 PM
re: Nortel Bets on Mumford From optodog:
I am really curious to see Nortel Optical Ethernet strategy...


I think the biggest strength, AND the biggest weakness in Nortel's OE strategy is that it has multiple components that make up "OE".

The OM3500/OPE has no differentiators on its own, and putting together an OE solution means using the less than leading edge PP8600.

The end-to-end story is too proprietary (and complex) to convince any real RBOCs. While vendors like Riverstone are make serious inroads with an open "OE" architecture based on an MPLS core.

RBOCs don't like solutions handed to them, they prefer best of breed (open) building blocks, Nortel's real OE strategy is anything but open!
Belzebutt 12/4/2012 | 7:25:27 PM
re: Nortel Bets on Mumford I just posted a funny, nothing more, nothing less.

Come on... LR doesn't delete funnies!
Spill the beans!!
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