Big revamp for Alcatel-Lucent, with Web 2.0 spin

The telecommunications gear maker says it's taking hard steps, including layoffs, to bring costs under control--and tops off the news with a nod toward Web apps.

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Jon Skillings is an editorial director at CNET, where he's worked since 2000. A born browser of dictionaries, he honed his language skills as a US Army linguist (Polish and German) before diving into editing for tech publications -- including at PC Week and the IDG News Service -- back when the web was just getting under way, and even a little before. For CNET, he's written on topics from GPS, AI and 5G to James Bond, aircraft, astronauts, brass instruments and music streaming services.
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Jon Skillings
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Alcatel-Lucent on Friday announced a significant restructuring, including layoffs, as it tries to position itself for a post-recession future flavored with new technologies.

For both 2009 and 2010, the Paris-based telecommunications equipment maker aims to reduce its break-even point by 1 billion euros per year. But that's not likely to be easy--the company says it expects the market for the types of gear and services it provides to shrink by between 8 percent and 12 percent.

The cost-cutting entails layoffs, among a number of other steps. Alcatel-Lucent will be eliminating the jobs of approximately 1,000 managers and approximately 5,000 contractors.

It will also seek to reduce costs in the areas that include manufacturing, procurement, support, and real estate. At the same time, it plans to "enhance R&D efficiency" by focusing on four areas: optical, IP, broadband, and applications enablement.

Toward that latter point--applications--Alcatel-Lucent devoted a good chunk of its Friday press release toward matters of the Web. For example:

Alcatel-Lucent's plan is to combine the trusted capabilities of the network environment with the creative communications services of the Web (Web 2.0, Web 3.0 and beyond).

It's this Web 2.0 spin that Larry Dignan, of our sister site ZDNet, found baffling.

I have no idea what Alcatel-Lucent is talking about. Cisco talks the Web 2.0 talk, but also walks it with acquisitions like WebEx. Cisco is also deploying this Web 2.0 stuff internally (see video of Cisco CIO Rebecca Jacoby's implementation).

As for Alcatel-Lucent, the vision is a bit fuzzy. Is Web 2.0 the real deal for the telecom equipment maker or just a throwaway line?

My guess is that it's the latter. After all, Alcatel-Lucent said it will shift to next generation platforms such as IP Optics, CDMA EV-DO, and "open application enablers" while consolidating its maturing product lines. Sounds a lot like the same Alcatel-Lucent to me.