Cisco to expand its ODC facilities in Kanata

San Diego, Calif.-based Cisco Systems plans to expand its Ottawa Development Centre (ODC) in Kanata, Ont. as part of the company’s formula for growth and recruitment in the Ottawa area.

“We’re really trying to leverage the high-tech talent pool in the Ottawa region and in Canada and create a team that’s second to none,” said Blair Colquhoun, site manager for Cisco Systems’ Ottawa Development Centre. “Our focus has been more on locating where the talent is, and in this case the talent is in Canada, it is in Ottawa, and we’re going to locate there.”

According Dan McLean, a network analyst with IDC Canada Ltd., “Why establish a facility halfway across the world when in fact it’s a much better idea to put the facility in the geography where people are actually living and have been educated. It’s likely they don’t want to move, so this makes it all that much more attractive.”

Since it opened in 1999, Cisco’s ODC has been the site for innovations and developments in Optical Internetworking – optical technology being the most efficient medium for transmitting information, offering the highest bandwidth capacity for network traffic. Cisco has been developing solutions that use light waves to transmit data, voice and video through its Ottawa location.

“Optical Internetworking represents the majority of the activity that’s going on at the site right now,” Colquhoun said.

The ODC underscores Cisco’s commitment to developing cost-effective optical Internetworking capabilities enabling enterprises, telecommunications companies and ISPs to accommodate converged network transport of voice, video and data communication channels. According to Colquhoun, the expansion will also support the growth of Cisco’s multi-service switching and remote access business units.

“In terms of the kind of research that’s going on in Canada, we’re sort of the skill-base of expertise. The right experts are here in terms of the research Cisco’s conducting at that facility,” McLean said. “Canada is one of the leading countries in the world in terms of research into fibre optic technologies. I think it was simply a matter of the right resources being here.”

As Canada continues to suffer from an IT brain drain, Cisco’s ODC expansion may keep some of Canada’s talent in the country, said McLean.

“There are real prized research jobs available in Canada (now), and that’s typically not the case,” he said. “One of the biggest issues is that most of them simply go south (to the U.S.) because there isn’t an opportunity to apply their trade, and most of the world’s leading research facilities and IT space are located south.”

As for the future of the ODC and Cisco Systems’ research plans, Colquhoun said, “We’ll be able to grow and be able to attract the talent we need to take the company forward. Who knows where it’s going to go, but the major point is that it really shows Cisco’s commitment to Ottawa, Cisco’s commitment to Canada and it’s really a reflection of the world-class talent pool that exists in Ottawa and in Canada.”

Groundbreaking for the first building will occur in the spring of 2000, with occupancy expected in December of 2000. The new facility will be located in Kanata’s NorthTech Campus, a proposed state-of-the-art campus on more than 150 acres. According to Colquhoun the facility hopes to expand its employees from approximately 260 to 2,400 over the next couple of years. Five subsequent buildings are scheduled for construction on an as-needed basis as the facility’s staff grows.