Operator No. 9: June 11, 2001

If the action at supercrowded SuperComm 2001 in Atlanta last week is any indication, there's a revolution at the core of the optical network - aka the metro core.

Core Meltdown

If the action at supercrowded SuperComm 2001 in Atlanta last week is any indication, theres a revolution at the core of the optical network — aka the metro core. Witness Opthos faux picket line at the corner of Andrew Young Boulevard and International Boulevard, where some too-clean-to-be-believed protesters shouted demands. This was repeated inside the Georgia World Congress Center and the Georgia Dome, where a bunch of optical vendors were ensconced. But dont ask TeleChoice analyst Christine Heckart to enlist in this metro core war. Heckart says the mistakes that led up to the dot-bombs are being repeated at the metro core. "I was on a call with Cisco [Systems] the other day. Where are they investing? At the metro core. Why? Because everyone else is. If you walked the floor, you probably saw like 3,000 metro core companies. We can support about three. This is a finite opportunity. . . Its gonna bust." Been there, done that.

Bye-Bye Bucks

The prevailing theme at SuperComm — which attracted 54,500 attendees, just over 2 percent more than last years 53,300 — seemed to be trying to, uh, extract value from various networks. Plenty of ideas got tossed around, but its an issue that stymies even the most seasoned analysts and money guys. "I know how to make beer into urine. I dont know how to make urine into beer," said Howard Anderson, senior managing director at YankeeTek Ventures and chairman of The Yankee Group. "I know how to make money into broadband. I dont know how to make broadband into money."

1 4 3

Number of days — as of June 11 — that President George W. Bush has been in office and without a technology adviser. Let me pause here and respond to your numerous letters haranguing me for calling the prez to task on this. "Why should we care if he has a technology adviser on staff?" you say. I say, Its because technology is such a major part of our economy and our lives. Doesnt it make sense for the president to have someone advising him on wireless regulations, Internet taxation, broadband issues, potential — and actual — technology monopolies, and the like, in the same way he has advisers eyeing everything from the environment to education to health care and the effects of all sorts of legislation on business development? FYI, technology accounted for 29 percent of all exports in 2000 and the high-tech sector created 234,800 new jobs in 2000, 4.6 percent more than the year before, according to a new study by AeA, formerly known as the American Electronics Association. To apply for the job, I recommend sending your résumé to: The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20500 or to [email protected]

And Linux Shall Set You Free?

Linus Torvalds, asked by Terry Gross, host of National Public Radios Fresh Air, last week to explain the difference between Microsofts Windows and the Linux operating systems, said: "Windows is more than just an operating system. Its an in-your-face operating system. Its a way of life. It tells you how to live. You better like the way Microsoft tells you how to live. Youll be seeing a lot of decisions made for you by Microsoft." Well, I suppose the inventor of Linux, the freeware OS that Microsoft execs admit they find threatening, wouldnt gush over Windows. Instead of making Linux sound like a version of Unix, Gross pronounced it Lin-NOX.

Whine and Cheese

For all you corporate executives and venture capitalists who dream of one day taking your millions and running your own winery, consider the example of Lew Platt. The former CEO of Hewlett-Packard took over Kendall-Jackson Wine Estates in Californias wine country — only to resign after 18 months on the job. In a statement last week, the 60-year-old Platt said he is leaving for "an active retirement that includes some corporate board and philanthropic work, but a fair amount of fishing and grape growing at his new Sonoma County ranch as well." Guess drinking it is more fun than making it.

"No one is getting to size at this point. Size isnt everything."

— FAY HOWARD, an official at NOMINET, the operator of Britains top-level domain, dot-uk. She was commenting on a move by the operators of country-code top-level domain names to create a separate group within the INTERNET CORPORATION FOR ASSIGNED NAMES AND NUMBERS, the group charged with managing the Internets Domain Name System. Howard was responding to a question by ICANN board member KARL AUERBACH about how big of an organization they would like.

My Coffee Got Cold

JavaOne officials took a video of conference attendees streaming into the Moscone Center in San Francisco last week to attend the conferences keynote. Upon analyzing the images, they concluded that lining people up outside the huge facility and letting the line enter through the front doors meant that about seven people per second could enter the building and file into the cavernous new auditorium, which for this event, lacked more than one avenue of ingress. Maximum attendance could take up to an hour and a half to fill the seats, some of them having waited in line that long or longer. "Its information like this that tells us well have to do it differently" for the next keynote, quipped John Gage, Sun Microsystems chief scientist, as he replayed a bit of the video on a handheld device. But what did the video tell you about attendees patience with Java?

The Art of Microsoft

Never mind JPEGs. Microsoft has accumulated an extensive — and undoubtedly expensive — collection of old-fashioned physical art, maintained by a full-time curator. The company owns 2,700 works of art, including paintings, photographs and prints, displayed in 74 buildings owned or leased by Microsoft in the Seattle area and at its Mountain View, Calif., campus. Represented artists include Claes Oldenburg, Marsha Burns (photo at left) and Lucian Freud. Microsofts corporate Web site goes so far as to describe the collection as "feisty" and "eclectic" — adjectives that Microsoft has yet to acknowledge also describe its business practices. Check out the Microsofts art collection online at www.microsoft.com/mscorp/artcollection. Or you can always get a real life and visit your local art museum.

Not at Your Service

It was early and maybe TeleChoices Christine Heckart was the teeniest bit cranky, but in nearly the same breath she was taking the shine off the metro core companies, she was cutting service providers to the bone: "For the past couple of years, the service providers have had kind of a halo effect. If you take that halo off, the service providers have basically sucked for about 100 years — theyre mediocre at everything they do, which is not what you do in a competitive industry." Christine can easily back up her claims; all she has to do is point to the service providers recent balance sheets.