In 2012, Alcatel-Lucent is repositioning its enterprise business unit with new leadership and new focus. The new enterprise unit no long carries the legacy of its Genesys call center unit which was officially sold off at end of January.
At the helm of the enterprise unit is its new President Michel Emelianoff, who officially took the reins on February 1. With the removal of Genesys, Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise will focused on unified communications and switching.
"We see an acceleration of certain trends in the market where we can leverage more of our assets," Emelianoff told InternetNews.com. "For one, we clearly see an evolution towards cloud based solutions and we see more enterprise customers looking to benefit from unified communications in a different manner than just Capex type of transactions."
Emelianoff noted that Alcatel-Lucent has both the communications assets as well as networking components required for cloud deployments. The larger Alcatel-Lucent organization also has a new effort called CloudBand, working with carriers to help build a cloud orchestration layer as well.
Another hot topic in enterprise networking continues to be virtualization. On one hand there are some networking vendors, like HP Networking that are pushing the message of software defined networking (SDN) and the open source OpenFlow specification. Alcatel-Lucent is not one of those vendors.
"We struggle to see the value of OpenFlow for campus networks," Emelianoff said "Today, it seems to resonate only for large data centers, but we don't see the value that smaller customers will get from adoption."
While Emelianoff isn't enthusiastic about OpenFlow, Alcatel-Lucent does have a strong play in network virtualization. One capability in the Enterprise portfolio is a technology called Virtual Network Profile (VNP) that enables is the ability for the network to indentify a virtual machine on a network. With that virtual machine visibility, the network admin can apply policies to the virtual machine and follow the virtual machine as it moves from one physical server to another.
VNP works within data centers as well as across interconnected data centers to help provide a pervasive approach to controlling virtual machines on a network.
Alcatel-Lucent is also gearing up to release a new virtualization technology for the switches themselves that will help simplify switch management.
"We're looking at releasing pretty soon a virtual chassis technology," Emelianoff said. "We're going to enable multiple core modular switch chassis and stacks to be managed as one single entity."
40 and 100 Gigabit Ethernet
Alcatel-Lucent is now also aggressively moving into the 40 and 100 Gigabit Ethernet space for enterprises. The OmniSwitch 6900, 40 Gigabit upgrade was first announced in December and is soon set to be available for customer deployments.
"We're shipping 40Gig capabilities two weeks from now for our 6900 top-of-rack switches," Emelianoff said. "We're also adding support for 40G on our 10K core chassis in July of this year."
The OmniSwitch 10K is a Linux powered, enterprise switch.
Going a step further, Emelianoff said that Alcatel-Lucent is looking at announcing 100 Gigabit Ethernet for enterprise data center switch deployments at the beginning of 2013. To date, 100G deployment has been limited to service provider infrastructure.
Alcatel-Lucent is facing an uphill battle in the race for enterprise networking market share. It's a very competitive market that includes Cisco, HP Networking, Brocade and Juniper among others.
In an effort to gain share against rivals, Emelianoff has a simple plan: become part of the conversation. In his view, Alcatel-Lucent's enterprise business has had a problem being part of the initial conversation with enterprises when the time comes to evaluate networking gear.
"We need to be way more present in the early stage of the decision cycle," Emelianoff said.