Tellabs FiOS: Focus

I wrote months ago at this about the focus that AFC had and how this focus created a market success in the small carriers. Now here we were doing a very large rollout at a Tier 1 carrier. This created an interesting set of challenges.

One of the things that was a huge gain in the IOCs was the flexibility of the UMC. This feature allowed the customer to configure the installation to what they needed. This was a real problem for FiOS. The solution was to create OLTs in standard configurations. We ended up building 2 configurations: A was a TR-08 configuration and B was a GR-303 configuration. Other than that there was no difference between the OLTs. TR-08 and GR-303 are different voice interfaces and depended on what was available on the voice switch in the Central Office.

So, we ended up with a 6 chassis configuration. 1 Chassis each for Common Control, Voice Interface, and Spare (intended later for T-1 type services). 3 Chassis were used to hold a total of 50 PON interfaces. The PON chassis eventually held the connections to the Data Networks but in the beginning their was only one connection per OLT (and it was an OC-3c 155Mb/s interface). Harmonic gear was placed in the rack for Video Transmission as well.

Now one of the challenges was something most people would consider simple: Software Upgrades. The UMC started life as a Digital Loop Carrier (DLC). The DLC specification (TR-57) were originally written in the days of the SLC-96. In those days, products were not software upgradeable. In fact, there was no customer software upgrades until we reached Release 2.1. Given that the entire upgrade process was arcane and at best touch and go. This became a huge issue with Verizon.

This process became a point at which the FiOS product separated from the main DLC product. The first real upgrades were a 3 night process to operate in the maintenance window that was available. Given that we eventually ended up with 3,500 OLTs we (Tellabs and Verizon) concluded that if we didn't do better that upgrades would be going on continuously. Even with this process we could only do several in a night.

Over a 2 year process, this timing came down to being able to be done within a single maintenance window with lots of time to spare. And all of this was all about focus. We now had 2 distinct products. The DLC and the FiOS BPON. They had significant internal differences. They shared a huge amount of a technology base. But this is one of the things that made FiOS work in volume. Tellabs forced the former AFC to build a product specific to the market. Given the scale of deployment, this made sense. Now the group had enough business that we could do both.

Next up, I want to talk about something on the ONT front. Next week we will talk about the UMC Ethernet Interface which has a lot of angle to it.

Jim Sackman
FocalPoint Business Coaching
http://www.jimsackman.focalpointcoaching.com/
We Focus On Your Business - Time, Team, Money, Exit
Business Coaching, Sales Training, Web Marketing, Behavioral Assessments, Financial Analysis

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Sonoma County News and Notes

Want to start off with a gentle reminder to think about coming to my Time Management Workshop. Tickets are limited and I will be providing lunch from Chef Chris. This one hour workshop can help you get time back every day. I am expecting to do more of these and if you have a topic that you want at one of these in the future let me know.

I want to talk a bit about our weather. We are in the middle of a bad drought. I am sure we will have impacts from this on our home lives. But as a Business Coach, I want to talk about the potential economic impact on Sonoma County and the North Bay. I saw an article recently in the North Bay Business Journal that Wine has a $13B impact on the Sonoma County Economy. There is another article that pegs the impact on Napa County as the same. These are huge numbers and there are thousands of jobs that are connected to the Wine Business.

I have talked a bit about a monoculture economy. We live in what is essentially a cash crop export economy. On top of that our tourism business is dependent on the Wineries.

There is nothing we can do to impact what can happen this year except save water as much that we can. That is about all we can do. In the long term, we need to help provide more diversity in our economy. We have had some success in the Food Manufacturing Industry, Breweries, and Distilleries. Unfortunately, all of these industries use a lot of water. We need to start looking at businesses are different and are environmentally sustainable in our locality.

The question is where do we take action as a group like this? Maybe the Sonoma County EDB. But each of us needs to think about our impact here and what we might be able to do about this. I am not trying to denigrate those things that we do well, but having a broader economy will serve us all.

I have posted about 2 issues in our local economy. I don't think we are in trouble but I do think we have a note of caution. If I add to it that our local telecom firms are strugggling a bit. Other local firms are doing very well and I am still optimistic about what we will end up with this year!

I want to end this discussion with a reminder of my non-coaching services.  I put these into four categories.  First, are Behavioral Assessments based on DISC.  We offer a range of assessments from personal to Sales Skills to 360s to Career Skills.  These can be very helpful in improving your communications with others.  Second, I offer Sales Training.  This can be done one or one or in a workshop (1/2 day or full day).  If you want to exceed your quota, just let me know.  Third, I offer a range of Financial Services from Business Valuation, Benchmarking, Expense Reduction to Business Planning.  if you are in need just let me know.  Fourth and finally, I offer Web Marketing from Website Development to SEO to Social Media.  Let me know if you need an Online 360 appraisal.

Jim Sackman
FocalPoint Business Coaching
http://www.jimsackman.focalpointcoaching.com/
We Focus On Your Business - Time, Team, Money, Exit
Business Coaching, Sales Training, Web Marketing, Behavioral Assessments, Financial Analysis

 

Acquisitions: Some thoughts on how to do it right

Over the past couple of weeks I have talked a bit about how badly the AFC acquisition and the Vivace acquisition went for Tellabs. Part of the problem with this is that knowing what went wrong does not provide some advice on how to do it right. I have acquired or been acquired about half a dozen times. I thought I owe you what I see of what could be done to do it properly. Now even if you do things right, you may fail. That is true in all things.

I have seen plenty of acquisitions where there was no real plan of where the combined company was going to go in any detail. There was a notion of how the acquired company would bring value to the equation, but no real execution strategy. What normally gets done is a "Synergy" Plan. These plans are all about how to merge the G&A functions. They are standard and almost nobody can argue with them. That makes these plans easy. Necessary but easy.

The real question is what should the combined company do outside of G&A. Let me start with Sales and Marketing. More than once I have seen lots of "Synergy" in these functions. Most of the time that has killed Sales momentum on the acquired company. The existing Sales Teams don't know the new products nor do they always call on the buyers of the new products. If you are going to eliminated the acquired Sales Team, you need to plan to reassign the quota mid-year. I think that needs to be thought about in all organizations. Essentially as the combined company is losing people there needs to be a plan to reallocate the work. If the work is not reassigned, then it just won't get done.

The other piece of this equation is to look at the people and see if they are likely to fit into the new culture. This will be a range of definitely yes, definitely no, and a whole lot of maybes. But you can not have no conversations about it. People will not have a lot of trust in any acquisition. This is true of both the acquirer and the acquired. The best thing you can do is lay out the plan. As I have written about Leadership in the past, you need to tell people what you want to accomplish. If you can make that plan attractive, they will help execute it. Even then there will be people that just don't want to be part of the new company. Its natural and when it happens or you see it happening you can not fight it. What you want to do is help it work for you and the employee. As you treat employees that stay and leave well then you will begin to build trust.

Looking at the Vivace acquisition, it was not clear that there was a plan to execute either within the Santa Clara organization or within the rest of Tellabs. One simple example would be MPLS development. The 8800 was the first MPLS product inside of Tellabs and had some significant installations. Both Finland and Chicago then went and developed MPLS separately. If I go back to the Marconi acquisition at AFC, I was beginning to formulate a plan on how to merge technology where it made sense (example - POTS cards). The Tellabs acquisition then stopped that effort, but that was the idea - slowly merge the technology base.

So, if you want to get a handle of what I am saying...Have a Plan, Tell people about the Plan, Execute the Plan, Monitor the Execution. This Plan has to extend to all areas of the acquisition. This is true even for parts of the target that will remain separate.

Jim Sackman
FocalPoint Business Coaching
We Focus On Your Business - Time, Team, Money, Exit
Business Coaching, Sales Training, Web Marketing, Behavioral Assessments, Financial Analysis

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Tellabs: Other Groups in Broadband

When I started at Tellabs, I worked for Carl DeWilde formerly of Fujista and Xtera. He had responsibility for more than Access. The former Occular, Vivace, Martis and DSC assets were all part of Carl's group. One of the biggest challenges were that the different groups did not work together. Instead they positioned themselves against each other. It was fascinating, but today I really want to contrast the way Vivace had been treated and compare it to AFC. Vivace had been purchased by Tellabs in May of 2003 or about 18 months before AFC was purchased. The product was envisioned as a Core MPLS router but by the 2003 it was considered an Edge device. Tellabs called the Vivace product the 8800 and positioned it with carriers. The good news for Tellabs was that Vivace had already made some progress even with Tier 1 carriers. The downside was that the team was really unprepared for that.

Let me use an example to explain what I mean by that last statement. I was asked to evaluate where we were with the 8800 Team in 2005. I talked to them and noticed that there was very little turnover from the acquisition. On top of that, not many processes had changed. In particular, testing was a challenge. When you release a new version of a product, you need to make sure that you haven't broken older functionality. For Tier 1 carriers, this is an assumption of how their vendors will work. When we would release new functionality at AFC, we would sometimes ship new functionality to customers prior to the completion of the release in a limited fashion. We had to be sure that we informed the customers of what we were doing with them and they had to sign off on it. This was done normally in a situation where a customer needed the new functionality right now. To reach, General Availability we had to be clear that the older features still worked.

The 8800 Team worked differently. They made a release Generally Available before they started regression and validation testing. I recall the meeting where I uncovered this and it took me about 15 minutes to wrap my head around it. I was so surprised by their behavior, I thought that I misunderstood what was being said. 8800 customers were not known for wanting to upgrade their networks and then I understood why. They could not be sure of what they were getting.

This was all part of the hand's off behavior at Tellabs as it related to Vivace. Given the heavy hand at AFC, it seems like things oscillated between extreme behaviors. Neither of these is the right way. If you acquire someone to be part of portfolio, you can't leave them alone. You also can't get rid of all the senior people. This process of integration has to be done carefully. This above and beyond the Systems Integration (IT, HR, Supply Chain, etc.). You buy a company in the long term for its people and their abilities. You have to get them to buy into the combined firm. Neither isolating them or eliminating them works and your path has to be understood before a purchase.

This problem is primarily why acquisitions fail. Statistically about 70% of them do. Both the 8800 and AFC acquisitions failed for Tellabs.

Jim Sackman FocalPoint Business Coaching http://www.jimsackman.focalpointcoaching.com/ We Focus On Your Business - Time, Team, Money, Exit Business Coaching, Sales Training, Web Marketing, Behavioral Assessments, Financial Analysis Lunch and Learn Tickets

The Courts Overturn the Net Neutrality Rules

Well, I had been trying to avoid blogging about Telecom issues to start things out. I actually had a completely different plan for today. With the Court ruling this week, I feel obliged to say a few things.

First off, nothing is likely to change in the immediate future. The Internet Service Providers know that if they discriminate blindly on content then they will be brought to heel.

I want to make it clear that I have opinions on all of this and views on what we should do. But I want to start with a much more important thing. Information. One of the first links to my blog came from a site that had posts about Telecom regulatory issues. I had never seen the site before and the information that was posted was incorrect. Not an subjective issue but a series of incorrect technical statements. That bothered me as I can imagine that people reading it could not make good decisions based on the information presented.

Well, back to why I am posting this, the court had no choice. The FCC has ruled that Internet Service is an "Information Service" and so they have no regulatory power over it. So, setting rules in place through the Net Neutrality rules was essentially a non-starter. But I think this is not the question for each of us. I think what we need to decide is what we want.

I can tell you what an Internet Service Providers wants. They want to make more money. They want to do so with the minimum investment. That is what they should want. Our job is to set up a regulatory environment that works for us and doesn't drive the carriers out of business.

The political side of this is a mess. If you believe that the FCC is not a political body, it is because you have never been there. The FCC consists of two different groups. The first is the Staff which are the long term bureaucrats that work the details of all the issues. The second are the Commissioner's Offices and they are political appointees working their way through their careers. There only a handful of technical folks on the Staff and none in the commissioner's Offices. The rest are generally lawyers who are working on policy issues. The other group is Congress who sets up the laws that the FCC administers. To be clear Congress does not break left and right on this issue. Telecom Regulation in Congress is a money issue. The last Telecom Act was in 1996, before the pervasiveness of the Internet. So, even if they were wonderful people the job at the FCC would be nearly impossible to get right.

So, where do we go from here. As I have written, I have my views and I will be posting them. But before we get there, I will start using Friday as my "Post about Net Neutrality" days. These will be more technical than business oriented. I will put them in a context for the lay person. I will hope to make them as correct as possible and ask my telecom readers fix my mistakes.

I have given many public speeches on this topic and they have generally been well attended. I think for each of us our current lives are greatly impacted by these issues. It is important that we have some basic understanding of what is going on and why it is so.

Finally, Monday I want to talk about 1 more specific personnel issue at Tellabs. Reminder to you all about my Lunch and Learns (Click HERE!) and Have a great weekend!

Jim Sackman
FocalPoint Business Coaching
We Focus On Your Business - Time, Team, Money, Exit
Business Coaching, Sales Training, Web Marketing, Behavioral Assessments, Financial Analysis

Sonoma County News and Notes

As we are now buckling down to the challenges of 2014, I want to announce the start of my "Lunch and Learn" series. These events will be lunchtime workshops on specific topics of general business interest. The first of these is being held on February 13th at the Santa Rosa Veterans Memorial Building. I will be providing a Workshop on Time Management. This will be straight out of the Brian Tracy playbook, and I hope it will be of value. Lunch will be provided. You can register for the event at Eventbrite (Click Here to Register). I hope to do these on a regular basis and vary the location to allow other audiences to attend. If you are interested in a workshop on any topic just let me know. I can do them for you as well as for the general public.

Next topic is one that is a note of caution. In particular, I am hearing rather uncomfortable rumblings out of the Sonoma County Real Estate Market. If you recall, I posted about the Economic Overview last year. One note was that there is not a lot of new Single Family Home Construction. Well, last year the Mortgage folks were doing a lot of refinance loans. Given the changes in interest rates, this market is in decline for 2014. There will still be some refinances, but it will be a lot less than in the recent past. The available inventory had a significant chunk of investment buyers. This kept the Realtors afloat.

So, what happens this year. If there are only resales, then one needs to make sure that folks are connected to investors who will be selling the houses that they bought. But that is going to be a restricted market and I think it makes both the Mortgage folks and Realtors nervous. I am not seeing panic but concern. You should consider this an early warning signal. I will keep my ear to the ground and let you know how this is starting to play out.

Last week after I posted about Cyan, Calix also pre-announced Q4. They had a revenue drop of about the same amount as Cyan. The market hit Calix but not as hard as they did Cyan. Why is this? Calix is much larger than Cyan, about 4 times as large. From a percentage standpoint, the miss was a much smaller percentage. Additionally, Calix has a much broader customer base than Cyan. The question for Cyan is going to be: "Where is the revenue until we get to SDN?" Calix does not have that problem. The one thing I will add to this is that neither Adtran nor Zhone pre-announced. This means that whatever issues Calix has may not be general market issues. There are not other public companies that compete with Calix, so we are talking about a small sample size. It might be that both Adtran and Zhone did a better job of managing expectations. Time will tell.

Before I close, I wanted to say that you guys always surprise me with what you read. Okay, I knew me posting about Tellabs getting sold would get reads. But a bit about my long and complicated relationship with Jorge Valdes? Really? If you are expecting me to sling mud, then you will be disappointed. Jorge and I fought about a lot of things. But I consider him a friend and someone that I trust. Our relationship has had its ups and downs, but it has endured. He knows that if he needs my help that he can call me. I feel I could do the same. Anyway Friday, I want to talk briefly about succession plans. The reason is that someone asked about mine when I was at AFC. So, I will tell you about it.

 

Jim Sackman
FocalPoint Business Coaching
http://www.jimsackman.focalpointcoaching.com/
We Focus On Your Business - Time, Team, Money, Exit
Business Coaching, Sales Training, Web Marketing, Behavioral Assessments, Financial Analysis
http://www.eventbrite.com/e/lunch-and-learn-time-managment-tickets-9093176937