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Straus Speaks

Jozef Straus, chairman and CEO of components superpower JDS Uniphase Inc. (Nasdaq: JDSU; Toronto: JDU) shed new light on next-generation optical components at the Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics (CLEO) in Baltimore this week, during an off-the-cuff interview with Light Reading.

We caught up with Straus in the corridor after he'd given a plenary presentation -- all about DWDM components -- to the CLEO crowd. Straus doesn't usually do interviews, but we'd been promised two minutes.

Analysts figure that JDSU's hearty appetite for buying other companies has put the company through some gut-wrenching changes. But Straus doesn't appear overly concerned. "No indigestion," he says with a smile, noting that it's important to present a unified face to the customer.

As to future acquisitions -- JDSU is still in the market. As Light Reading previously learned, the focus now is on acquiring smaller companies with next-gen technologies to fill any remaining gaps in its product portfolio (see JDSU Switches Acquisition Strategy).

We asked Straus who started the merger mania: Was it Kalkhoven's idea? (See Kevin Kalkhoven .) Or were they both in it together? Straus said they dreamed it up together, but "Kevin is uglier than me so he took the blame."

The main take-home from our brief, close encounter was Straus's view on which components he believes will shape the industry's future.

Right now JDSU has a big drive on 40-gig components, especially transceivers and dispersion compensators. It's also developing tunable lasers and filters -- part of a push for the flexibility that service providers want. Other key components under development are compact "amplets" for metro applications, including both semiconductor optical amplifiers (SOAs) and erbium-doped fiber amplifiers (EDFAs).

Equally interesting is what Straus didn't mention -- integration at the waveguide level. JDS Fitel and Uniphase -- the two companies that combined to form JDSU -- were both specialists in legacy components, passives in the case of JDS Fitel and actives in the case of Uniphase. ("Legacy" in this sense means components built from discrete parts, put together and packaged in a labor-intensive operation by skilled operators).

JSDU says it is bringing legacy components into the present day by automating their manufacture. To that end, it recently bought Optical Process Automation Inc. (OPA) (see JDSU Buys Systems Maker). Its acquisition of Fujian Casix Laser Inc. last year also seems to be mainly about process automation (see JDSU Acquires China's Casix). Now that JDSU has SDL, it can offer arrayed waveguide gratings (AWGs). But there was no mention of taking waveguide integration further. Many people think waveguide integration is the future of the components industry -- if so, this may be a chink in JDSU's product armor.

Before we could discuss any details, Straus noticed a famous laser physicist that he had to talk to, so the meeting broke up. Straus is a techie at heart. He holds a PhD and used to attend CLEO as a researcher. He remembers when he would listen "in awe" to the plenary presentations at this conference 25 years ago.

— Pauline Rigby, Senior Editor, Light Reading, http://www.lightreading.com

kozza 12/4/2012 | 8:26:45 PM
re: Straus Speaks who was the famous laser physicist
Steve Saunders 12/4/2012 | 8:26:43 PM
re: Straus Speaks Yes, but we have at least mastered the art of writing in grammatical sentences.
photonic314 12/4/2012 | 8:26:43 PM
re: Straus Speaks Albert Einstein...Lightreading...clearly does not have the same clout that WSJ.
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