Fred Knight
Fred Knight was part of the team that launched the VoiceCon Conference in 1990. He served as Program Chairman through...
Read Full Bio >>

Fred Knight | August 01, 2008 |


What'dya Done for Me Lately?

What'dya Done for Me Lately? For some of the most storied names in telecommunications, yesterday was both an end and a beginning. The spin-off of Siemens Enterprise Networks (SEN) and a leadership shake-up at Alcatel-Lucent, both a long-time coming, are finally under way, and the ripple effects will be felt by many within our industry, and for some period of time.

For some of the most storied names in telecommunications, yesterday was both an end and a beginning. The spin-off of Siemens Enterprise Networks (SEN) and a leadership shake-up at Alcatel-Lucent, both a long-time coming, are finally under way, and the ripple effects will be felt by many within our industry, and for some period of time.

For some of the most storied names in telecommunications, yesterday was both an end and a beginning. The spin-off of Siemens Enterprise Networks (SEN) and a leadership shake-up at Alcatel-Lucent, both a long-time coming, are finally under way, and the ripple effects will be felt by many within our industry, and for some period of time.My colleague Eric Krapf has been doing a great job of reporting on these changes on this site, so I'll just recap the main events: First, Siemens Enterprise Networks (SEN), which has been seeking a buyer or partner for the better part of the past two years, has finally found one.

In a deal set to close by September 30, the controlling interest in Siemens Enterprise Networks has been sold to The Gores Group, a private equity firm. The portfolio of the Gores Group already includes Enterasys and SER Solutions, a firm specializing in contact centers, and Gores is now putting the three businesses--SEN, Enterasys and SER--into a single joint-venture organization.

SEN, while a major player globally, has had more than its share of troubles during much of the past decade. According to an article in Business Week, in the past two years alone, SEN lost more than $1.5 billion and cut more than 6,800 employees (the Business Week article is here).

Siemens's last major pop in North American market share came when it purchased the ROLM installed base from IBM about a decade ago. But the ROLM customers peeled off as their systems depreciated and Siemens' share began to slip...and slip...and slip. Siemens was never able to replace those customers, despite widespread acknowledgment that its HiPath technology was great (once it finally arrived), and despite innovations like OpenScape and the more recently announced UC Server.

While the Siemens name will still be affixed to the new joint venture, its role will undoubtedly change. Siemens, perhaps earlier than any of the other traditional PBX vendors, acknowledged the ways in which its world--and its markets--were changing. It announced OpenScape before any of its competitors had comparable offerings, it moved aggressively to work with Microsoft's Live Communications Server as a software platform and it was quicker than its peers to publicly embrace the shift in focus from hardware to software.

The new SEN is now teamed with Enterasys to offer an alternative to the Cisco monolith and, at least theoretically, it can focus on creating software-based products to fulfill the promise of Unified Communications.

I say "theoretically," because integrating the companies that comprise this new joint venture is bound to be tricky, and I'll bet dollars to donuts that Gores won't hang on to all of the SEN people. Hopefully, Gores won't throw out the baby with the bathwater, and those that remain will have both the talent and experience to carry Siemens' traditional strengths in real-time communications into the brave, new world of unified communications and applications.

And speaking of reductions-in-force, Alcatel-Lucent announced one of its own. It wasn't big in numbers, but it is big news in terms of the future of this company. The architects of the Alcatel-Lucent merger--Pat Russo, Serge Tchuruk and Henry Schacht--are stepping down over the next several months. Like the Siemens' news, this too has been a long-time coming.

It is never easy for giants to merge, and this particular merger has been as difficult as any in recent memory. Both companies are legendary (Lucent was the spinout of AT&T's equipment business), with close ties not only to their major customers but also to their respective national governments. Prior to this merger, while touted for their respective intellectual property, neither company was noted for agility, nimbleness or flexibility; that remains the case today.

Siemens. Alcatel. Lucent. Three companies that belong in the pantheon of what telecom once was. These companies continue to play an important role in today's market, but they can no longer rest on past glories. It's a "whad'ya done for me lately" kind of world, and its time for these companies to offer a convincing reply.


March 7, 2018

Video collaboration is experiencing significant change and innovation-how can your enterprise take advantage? In this webinar, leading industry analyst Ira Weinstein will present detailed analysis

February 21, 2018

Business agility has become the strongest driver for enterprises to begin migrating their communications to the cloud-and its a benefit that enterprises are already realizing. To gain this benefit

February 7, 2018

Enterprises are starting to grasp the critical importance of security and compliance in their team collaboration deployments. And once the risks are mitigated, your enterprise can integrate these n

March 12, 2018
An effective E-911 implementation doesn't just happen; it takes a solid strategy. Tune in for tips from IT expert Irwin Lazar, of Nemertes Research.
March 9, 2018
IT consultant Steve Leaden lays out the whys and how-tos of getting the green light for your convergence strategy.
March 7, 2018
In advance of his speech tech tutorial at EC18, communications analyst Jon Arnold explores what voice means in a post-PBX world.
February 28, 2018
Voice engagement isn't about a simple phone call any longer, but rather a conversational experience that crosses from one channel to the next, as Daniel Hong, a VP and research director with Forrester....
February 16, 2018
What trends and technologies should you be up on for your contact center? Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center & Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2018, gives us the lowdown.
February 9, 2018
Melanie Turek, VP of connected work research at Frost & Sullivan, walks us through key components -- and sticking points -- of customer-oriented digital transformation projects.
February 2, 2018
UC consultant Marty Parker has crunched lots of numbers evaluating UC options; tune in for what he's learned and tips for your own analysis.
January 26, 2018
Don't miss out on the fun! Organizer Alan Quayle shares details of his pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon, TADHack-mini '18, showcasing programmable communications.
December 20, 2017
Kevin Kieller, partner with enableUC, provides advice on how to move forward with your Skype for Business and Teams deployments.
December 20, 2017
Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst with ZK Research, shares his perspective on artificial intelligence and the future of team collaboration.
December 20, 2017
Delanda Coleman, Microsoft senior marketing manager, explains the Teams vision and shares use case examples.
November 30, 2017
With a ruling on the FCC's proposed order to dismantle the Open Internet Order expected this month, communications technology attorney Martha Buyer walks us through what's at stake.
October 23, 2017
Wondering which Office 365 collaboration tool to use when? Get quick pointers from CBT Nuggets instructor Simona Millham.
September 22, 2017
In this podcast, we explore the future of work with Robert Brown, AVP of the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work, who helps us answer the question, "What do we do when machines do everything?"
September 8, 2017
Greg Collins, a technology analyst and strategist with Exact Ventures, delivers a status report on 5G implementation plans and tells enterprises why they shouldn't wait to move ahead on potential use ....
August 25, 2017
Find out what business considerations are driving the SIP trunking market today, and learn a bit about how satisfied enterprises are with their providers. We talk with John Malone, president of The Ea....
August 16, 2017
World Vision U.S. is finding lots of goodness in RingCentral's cloud communications service, but as Randy Boyd, infrastructure architect at the global humanitarian nonprofit, tells us, he and his team....
August 11, 2017
Alicia Gee, director of unified communications at Sutter Physician Services, oversees the technical team supporting a 1,000-agent contact center running on Genesys PureConnect. She catches us up on th....
August 4, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, has lately been working on integrating enterprise communications into Internet of Things ecosystems. He shares examples and off....
July 27, 2017
Industry watcher Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares her perspective on this acquisition, discussing Mitel's market positioning, why the move makes sense, and more.
July 14, 2017
Lantre Barr, founder and CEO of Blacc Spot Media, urges any enterprise that's been on the fence about integrating real-time communications into business workflows to jump off and get started. Tune and....
June 28, 2017
Communications expert Tsahi Levent-Levi, author of the popular blog, keeps a running tally and comprehensive overview of communications platform-as-a-service offerings in his "Choosing a W....
June 9, 2017
If you think telecom expense management applies to nothing more than business phone lines, think again. Hyoun Park, founder and principal investigator with technology advisory Amalgam Insights, tells ....
June 2, 2017
Enterprises strategizing on mobility today, including for internal collaboration, don't have the luxury of learning as they go. Tony Rizzo, enterprise mobility specialist with Blue Hill Research, expl....
May 24, 2017
Mark Winther, head of IDC's global telecom consulting practice, gives us his take on how CPaaS providers evolve beyond the basic building blocks and address maturing enterprise needs.
May 18, 2017
Diane Myers, senior research director at IHS Markit, walks us through her 2017 UC-as-a-service report... and shares what might be to come in 2018.
April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.