Lucent refocuses on the enterprise

Lucent finally has a dedicated enterprise networking division to call its very own.

The communications equipment giant last week split off its campus and WAN-access product families from the sprawling data-products group and merged them with Lucent’s voice product lines into a single entity called Lucent Enterprise Networks.

Lucent’s old data products group had been dominated by hot-selling, carrier-class ATM, IP switching and access-concentration products. This led to less visibility for Lucent’s gigabit Ethernet and ATM workgroup products, which the company acquired via acquisitions.

Now those enterprise products – including the Cajun line of Ethernet switches and ATM multifunction switches, and the Pipeline routers that Lucent acquired when it bought Ascend Communications will join Lucent’s hugely popular PBX and call-center products in one organization aimed squarely at corporate nets.

Despite all of Lucent’s acquisitions and promotion of converged networks, the PBX/call center group – called Lucent Business Communications Systems (BCS) – had remained unintegrated with Lucent’s enterprise data products.

Lucent Enterprise Networks will now undertake major, coordinated initiatives in reseller recruitment and training, global direct marketing, and electronic commerce, in an effort to topple Cisco and Nortel Networks from their perches in corporate market share, says Bill O’Shea, the unit’s new executive vice-president.

Independent resellers of the Pipeline, Cajun, Systimax cabling and telephony products will be brought together “into a single indirect channel reporting to me,” O’Shea says. A large training budget will ensure the resellers will be able to cross-sell products “much better than we have in the past,” he adds. On the direct sales side, former BCS sales reps will be given quotas to produce sales leads for the firm’s data products.

Part of the goal is to present a more consistent challenge to Cisco on complex corporate-network requests for proposal, O’Shea says. Lucent’s data-marketing executives have complained that Cisco targets Lucent bids for campus product installations and deliberately undercuts them to deny Lucent a foothold. O’Shea says that’s not surprising when Lucent’s market shares are in the “single digits or low double digits,” adding: “If we’re meeting Cisco in only one out of 10 opportunities, it’s easy for them to lowball that one.”

Lucent officials also admit that prospects have sometimes found it difficult even to identify Lucent’s enterprise products on the Web. Clicks on “Enterprise” on Lucent’s Web site have often returned only the voice or unified-messaging products from BCS, while clicks on “Data” have returned everything up to terabit switch routers and core ATM switches for carriers. “Now we have corrected for that,” says Patricia Russo, executive vice president of another major new division, called Lucent Service Provider Networks.

In its reorganization, Lucent also established two other major groupings. NetCare Professional Services will handle Lucent’s large managed and outsourced multivendor networks business. Microelectronics and Communications Technologies will consist of Lucent’s semiconductor business plus a new ventures group and Lucent’s aggressive intellectual property division, which protects its Bell Labs patents.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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