I attended the Lightreading “Future of Optical Networking” conference in New York last week.
I had high expectations for the conference based on one I attended two years ago on Ethernet in the WAN. At that conference there were a number of participants from start ups and established companies who led a vigorous debate about what the future of SONET/SDH looked like. Even though I lived and breathed Ethernet over SONET/SDH at the time, and met regularly with the companies on the panel, the debate that ensued was highly educational and enlightening.
The recent conference was oriented more as a PR event. It was clear that Cisco, Fujitsu, and Ciena paid Lightreading to assemble an audience (and at one point a speaker joked to this affect) of carriers and financial types so that they could preach their gospel. There was some good point-counterpoint on ROADMs (Reconfigurable Optical Add/Drop Multiplexers) but for the most part the panel sessions were more lecture and less debate. I think this conference was an anomaly, as I feel Lightreading research and reporting is superior to the work done by ‘more reputable’ firms like iSuppli and Dell’Oro.
I also had the good luck to win the Apple iPod Nano given away at the conference conclusion. I found this particularly ironic given my vocal opinions on Apple and iTunes. Another member of my family harbored no such opinions and quickly nationalized the asset faster than a South American Dictator($$$ WSJ Link). Thank you very much Lightreading.
Joe Weinman, VP of Strategy and Emerging Services at AT&T spoke for nearly an hour on future applications for the net. He positioned AT&T as delivering a future where they operate a myriad amount of services on the net – television, compute farms, remote storage, even RFID tag reading. AT&T doesn’t strike me as having 1/10th of the corporate agility to implement all of these programs. How will AT&T outpace other smaller companies that offered the same services over AT&T’s network?
Regardless, Joe was a very good speaker. If AT&T has execution equivalent to this guys vision, they’ll do all right. I engaged him afterwards a question on Project Lightspeed- “What is the number one reason a cable customer would switch to AT&T for Video Services” – and didn’t get a cohesive answer. AT&T still needs to communicate this clearly to the market.
Scott Clavenna presented some Heavyreading forecasts for the optical equipment market.
Market Size 2005 -> 2008
Metro WDM $1.25BB -> $2.2BB
Long Haul Transport $1.4BB -> $1.65BB
“Legacy” Multi-service SONET/SDH $3.5BB -> $4.2BB
I think market research firms should refrain from forecasting hard numbers, and that these efforts should be left to those who have skin in the game. Here’s my take.
Lightreading’s account of the conference is summarized here.