Allentown: We Came for People, We Stayed for the Waterpark – A Look Back at 12 Years in the Small Pennsylvania City
Sr. Manager, Internal Communication & Training
In a quick 13 years, Infinera has established offices in an impressive list of international locations. From Silicon Valley to Bangalore, London to Beijing and Ottawa to Singapore, we have positioned ourselves in the most critical cities to leverage customer interactions, a large talent pool of specialized engineers and the energy of these major metropolitan areas. When reviewing these locations, you might be surprised to learn that we also boast of a thriving facility in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
Allentown. Home of the Wildwater Kingdom amusement park; hiding place of the liberty bell during the Revolutionary War; host of the Lehigh Valley IronPigs baseball team; and, of course, the third largest city in Pennsylvania with 118,032 residents.
When compared to the population size of say, Beijing, with just over 20 million, it might make you wonder: Why Allentown? And why did we expand our operations there just five years ago?
In 2009, Infinera made the strategic decision to further our investment in this small East Coast city. At a ribbon cutting ceremony featuring a speech by Infinera co-founder Dave Welch, and attended by several local dignitaries including a congressman and a senator, the team celebrated Infinera’s commitment to Lehigh County. Our devotion to the area is still strong—we recently signed a seven year lease extension, and over the last four years we have significantly expanded our operations.
When Infinera first opened its doors in Allentown 12 years ago, the location was responsible for package development and a single manufacturing line producing our Gen 1 PIC Modules. In the course of the subsequent years, we developed and continue to manufacture Gen 1, Gen 2 and Gen 3 PIC Modules. The Infinera team also made the strategic decision to move production of our nLM and AOLM line cards to the Allentown facility to have the manufacturing co-located with the PIC Modules. The aim of this move was to leverage engineering expertise across the groups and realize greater cost reductions. It was a success, and since Allentown took over the production of these line cards, we have achieved process and yield improvements resulting in substantial, ongoing savings.
In order to support this growth in development and production, Infinera has increased our talented Allentown team by more than 40% in the last five years. VP of Modules, Mike Reffle, comments on the distinct advantages of hiring in a smaller city versus our other locations, “Sometimes it’s a real benefit to be one of the only growing optical companies in the area. We have our pick of the top talent and our attrition rates are virtually zero.”
You Don’t Have to Understand Optics to Understand How Infinera Works – Take Our Kids to Work Day 2014
Sr. Manager, Internal Communication & Training
Ever since the enactment of the Fair Child Labor Standards Act in 1938, “Take Your Kid to Work Day” has taken on a whole new meaning. Fortunately, the inability to put the children to work has yet to deter the Infinera team. For the last eight years, we have hosted over 100 children for a day packed with pizza, parties and PICs.
However, every year, as the team gathers to plan Infinera’s Take Our Kids to Work Day (TOKTWD) event, we face the same challenge. Translating the complexities of our solution to a theater full of kids between the ages of six and fourteen is difficult; even when those kids are the super intelligent offspring of our talented employees. This year, we stumbled upon an inescapable reality that simplified our task: you don’t have to understand optics to understand what makes Infinera extraordinary. At the end of the day, it’s about the way our team works together.
This year’s TOKTWD team came armed with an introduction from Tom Fallon, countless toy racing tracks, actual Infinera products and over 100 inspired volunteers. We invited 130 Sunnyvale children to start a company like Infinera. Whether it was the six year old marketing team or the fourteen year old recruiting team, each group was assigned a critical task in the building of the Infinera TOKTWD product.
What did they learn? That every team is critical to the business—whether you are building complex optical systems or a plastic toy.
What product did the kids create? A network of toy racing tracks used to represent optical fibers connecting two Infinera DTNs.
In between the activities, the children were called to an important meeting—the touring of our PIC Fab and Test facility. Like their parents, the children had to learn to balance meetings, projects and collaborate. And when it was time to return home, they did so with a better understanding of our technology, and, more importantly, a real-life connection to the importance of cooperation and a shared strategic vision.
Sr. Director, Corporate Communications
Dateline: May 2014 – Phuket International Airport
As I sit at the airport waiting for my plane home I’m afforded a great opportunity to reflect on the many things I learned at the NetEvents APAC Press and Service Provider Summit as well as ponder the political climate of a country at a critical juncture.
Once again, the NetEvents team managed to present a solid line-up of industry stars from the analyst and service provider community in Asia to a room packed with the leading press and analysts from the region.
On the opening day I had the pleasure of speaking on a panel on Telco Transformation alongside Tom Mowat, Principal Analyst at Analysys Mason and Head of APAC Research; Gint Atkinson, Vice President – Network Strategy & Architecture, KVH Co.; Ltd; Jon Vestal, Vice President, Product Architecture, Pacnet Global; Ming Kiat, Director, Business Product Engineering, SingTel; and Mr. Passakorn Hongsyok, Department Director, International Business, UIH – United Information Highway Co., Ltd. Both KVH and Pacnet are Infinera customers so I felt right at home.
As Tom Mowat introduced the challenge for telcos in Asia looking ahead, I found the chart showing the strong growth in smartphone adoption forecast across Asia quite interesting. Working in Silicon Valley – as I do – it’s hard to imagine anyone not having a smartphone yet. But this chart pretty clearly shows the anticipated growth ahead:
Tom then posed the question to each member of the panel: “What is the single biggest thing driving change today?”
Infinera Product Evangelist
This week I was privileged to attend the Global Telecoms Business (GTB) Awards at the Park Lane Hotel in London. The awards are focused on innovation, and reflect the theme of the conference that GTB runs in parallel to the awards ceremony.
I was personally rather impressed with the quality of the food at the awards dinner – and I’m determined to track down the recipe for the amazing Bread and Butter Pudding that was served for dessert.
(Author’s disclosure: Our Legal department have asked me to disclose to the reader that this picture is not the actual Bread and Butter Pudding served at the awards dinner but rather just a picture of Bread and Butter Pudding. It was so good that I’d eaten mine before I realized that I should have taken a picture of it!)
Infinera has quite a good track record at the GTB Awards – probably because Infinera works extremely closely with our customers on genuine innovation – we don’t just talk, we do.
One was for the Guinness World Record project that I was lucky enough to lead last year, and which I’ve already written about in a previous blog. The great thing about that project was that it showed me how incredibly robust the Infinera implementation is because, when asked to do something that was radically beyond normally operational specifications we were able to execute it repeatedly. In fact, turning up 8 Tb/s of capacity on a production network, all three of the record runs came up within a minute of one another with our record time being 19 minutes and 1 second. Mind you, the entire internet in 2005 only had 5 Tb/s of capacity – something that seems hard to believe but is true. The record-breaking attempt was also a fantastic showcase for the capabilities of super-channels and the DTN-X system and that our customer, DANTE can now bring to their Research and Education customers around Europe and beyond.
“We are delighted to achieve this prestigious recognition following our Guinness World Record achievement with Infinera,” said Michael Enrico, CTO at DANTE. “By future-proofing our network with Infinera’s technology, we are ensuring that we can continue to stay ahead of the exponential growth in data, and that the users of the GÉANT network can continue to set new standards in the pace of scientific research.”
While Guinness World Record certificates are evidence for the value of DTN-X technology, they don’t count for revenue and so the second award was equally satisfying.
Sr. Director, Corporate Communications
Light Reading recently announced the finalists for their 2014 Leading Lights Awards, and we were delighted to see Infinera named as finalist in two of the 16 categories for this prestigious award. The 2014 Light Reading Leading Lights Award marks the 10th anniversary of a program that keeps a finger on the pulse of innovation in the telecom sector.
“We received hundreds of entries for our 16 categories and, having been involved in every Leading Lights program so far, I can honestly say that the quality of the submissions has never been higher” said Ray LeMaistre, Editor in Chief for Light Reading, in this article announcing the shortlist.
Infinera made the 2014 shortlist for both the Best New Product (Telecom) and Company of the Year (Public) categories. The Multi-Layer Automation solution for Infinera Intelligent Transport Networks™ was named on the shortlist for Best New Product (Telecom).
Multi-layer transport networks blend the efficiency of digital switching with the scale of optical switching to create the communication foundation of cloud-based services and the Internet. The new solution includes the industry’s first super-channel FlexROADM (reconfigurable optical add drop multiplexer), the first standards based multi-layer control plane for spectrum switched optical networks (SSON) and the first 500 gigabit per second (Gb/s) flexible-grid super-channels. The combination of the Infinera DTN-X packet optical transport networking platform with these new solutions uniquely enables multi-layer automation of Intelligent Transport Networks.
Field Marketing Manager, Asia Pacific
Pacnet is one of Infinera’s major customers in the Asia Pacific region. As one of Asia’s leading telecoms and internet service providers, Pacnet owns and operates approximately 46,000 km of Pan-Asia submarine cable network that lands in 19 cable landing stations and extends from India to the United States. Originally, Pacnet’s strategic business vision required upgrading two networks, EAC and C2C, into one highly resilient mesh-based network.
I had the privilege of working with Pacnet’s corporate communications team on a written case study and video about the Infinera deployment at Pacnet. In the video, embedded below, Andrew Lumsden, CTO of Pacnet, does a great job explaining how the Infinera Intelligent Transport Network™ is helping Pacnet achieve their business goals in one of the world’s most competitive and challenging markets.
The Infinera Express Visits Mexico: The Delegation Miguel Hidalgo, NEC and Infinera Demonstrate How They Plan to Connect Mexico City
Marketing Communications Manager
Earlier this month, The Delegation Miguel Hidalgo, NEC and Infinera gathered on board the Infinera Express outside the Museo Soumaya, a Mexico City art museum known for its unique architecture, to demonstrate leading edge technologies that enable the creation of “smart cities.” The Infinera Express is a mobile demo vehicle housing Infinera’s highly efficient and scalable telecommunications technologies.
Special guests at this event included the CEO of The Delegation Miguel Hidalgo, Victor Hugo Romo, who discussed the importance of companies like Infinera and NEC that are helping to provide the right solutions and technology to connect their city of more than 8 million residents. Mr. Guerra said, “[A highly connected technology platform] is a strategic boost to the development of smart cities in Mexico, because we will not only attract investment in technology to the country, but we are thinking of high value-added investments that will attract, support and retain the talent we need to be increasingly competitive.” (more…)