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Ciena Introduces Management Tools to Make Networks Flexible

Mitch Wagner

Ciena today introduced WAN management software designed to help carriers provide meet the unpredictable bandwidth demands of today's enterprise and cloud customers.

The Ciena Corp. (NYSE: CIEN) Agility Multilayer WAN Controller is designed to allow carriers to optimize wide-area networks. It's built on the OpenDaylight SDN controller, to enhance interoperability with other vendors' hardware and software. Ciena, which recently won Light Reading's Leading Lights award this year for Best New Product (Telecom) for its WaveLogic Photonics, first talked about its SDN controller plans in March this year. (See Ciena Develops an SDN Controller, Leading Lights Awards 2014: The Winners, and Defining SDN & NFV.)

The Agility controller will work with four apps to handle different elements of network configuration:

Navigate automatically determines the best possible route through the network to establish a connection.

Protect determines alternate routes in case the initial route runs into problems.

Optimize defragments the network to free up available resources by reallocating capacity and fine-tuning connection routing.

V-WAN allows enterprise and cloud customers to schedule their own bandwidth on demand through end-user portals or applications such as a cloud or NFV orchestration system.

V-WAN has its own applications, including MyPerformance, for performance monitoring; MyPortal, a web portal application to allow customers to request bandwidth on demand and verify delivery and performance; and MyAdapter and On-Demand Service VPNs.

MyAdapter plugs into enterprise or cloud network applications to allow the carrier customers' applications to request bandwidth automatically. For example, an enterprise customer using VMware Inc. (NYSE: VMW) software to manage multiple cloud datacenters might use MyAdapter to allow VMware to automatically request bandwidth as needed.

MyAdapter can also orchestrate across multiple domains, automating bandwidth allocations between local metro network operators, regional providers or exchange providers, and datacenter cloud operators such as Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) Azure. "The enterprise doesn't need a permanent connection to a particular cloud operator. They can at will select who they want to connect to, and just pay for the amount of capacity from their datacenter to the cloud operator for a particular transaction," says Mitch Auster, Ciena senior director, market development.

Finally, On-Demand Service VPNs allows carriers' customers to set up virtual WANS between multiple sites, scheduling resources on an as-needed basis.

The Agility software suite is entering trials with Tier 1 operators, and will be available later this year.

I pumped Auster for information about interoperability with other vendor solutions. I've been hung up on this subject since the weekend, when I came across this conversation on the Software Defined Networking Group on LinkedIn. Greg Whalen, a management consultant with Greywale Management, asks: "If everyone is selling a 'single pane of glass' solution don't you end up with multiple 'single panes of glass'?"

I asked Auster if the Ciena software will work with other vendors' products. He said it will -- that's why they used OpenDaylight as the basis for the product. The Agility controller supports the OpenDaylight Service Abstraction Layer, allowing multiple vendor management programs to interoperate with the Agility software.

We went back and forth, with Auster declining to name specific names of any other vendors' whose products the Ciena software will work with. He kept pointing back to Agility's compliance with the OpenDaylight standard. But of course compliance with standards is only a start -- interoperability requires real-world testing.

As Auster resisted naming names, my malarkey-meter was on red alert. It looked like this:

But then Auster said Ciena will offer professional services to ensure that its products work with other products used by its network operator customers.

So there's that. Network operators will have the opportunity to ensure the Ciena software works on their own network configurations before they buy.

Auster and I also got into some interesting discussion of the business and technology conditions that are placing new demands for flexibility on carrier networks. But this article has gone on long enough -- I'll save that discussion for another article, coming soon.

More about Ciena:

— Mitch Wagner, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profileFollow me on Facebook, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading. Got a tip about SDN or NFV? Send it to wagner@lightreading.com.

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User Rank: Light Sabre
7/9/2014 | 10:23:38 PM
who would want to name competitors when promoting their products..?
I don't blame Ciena reps for not wanting to name which of their competitors that they'll be compatible with.. ultimately, compatibility may not be up to them -- and why promote competitors?

User Rank: Lightning
7/9/2014 | 3:38:15 PM
Vendor interop with Ciena OpenDaylight-based SDN controller and apps
Thanks for the story, Mitch (great name by the way). I thought it might be helpful to clarify the issue of vendor interoperability. You actually brought up the key point in your story: vendors creating 'restricted to members only' ego-systems with a single pane of glass – one for each siloed ego-system!


That is exactly what we're helping network operators avoid with OpenDaylight, which offers a single pane of glass that belongs to the whole industry. Any network element vendor can develop and offer up their own plug-in to that service abstraction layer (SAL), without asking Ciena or anyone else for permission or instructions. The same goes for control layer modules that add value to or improve upon the open source baseline. Since OpenDaylight is an open, vendor-neutral ecosystem that doesn't restrict value creation (and accretion) to the vendor supplying the ODL-based controller, third-party vendors are happy to contribute.  The fully open approach makes things easier on a technical level, and makes things work on a commercial dynamics level for both vendors and operators.


Will network operators or their partners, such as Ciena, need to test to make sure things work together? Sure, but with a common model-driven framework, open APIs and the SAL that becomes a much quicker and simpler task than doing so with proprietary management systems as in the past – and also a lot more palatable to vendors as proprietary management systems always belonged to some other vendor.  As Carol Wilson reported a couple days ago, I'd mentioned on a Big Telecom Event panel that Ciena recently demonstrated successful interoperability of our controller with a top router vendor (using NETCONF/YANG, btw) in a lab trial with a Tier 1 operator with less than 2 weeks effort. Immediate efforts are in such contexts with customers so we have some constraints right now on what we can comment in detail. But as this aspect is important we will continue to push and to help operators benefit quickly from contributions from the whole community. A very large number of vendors are participating in OpenDaylight, so operators expect the components under that single pane of glass to build rapidly – and so do we.
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