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Cyan Packs One-Two Product Upgrade Punch

Carol Wilson

On the heels of 2013 earnings results that sagged with a drop in Windstream business, Cyan launched a one-two punch in new products that it hopes signal a brighter future, with upgrades to both its Blue Planet software-defined networking (SDN) platform and its metro packet-optical transport gear (See Cyan Upgrades SDN, Packet-Optical Products and Cyan Reports 2013 Results.)

The Blue Planet upgrade includes the first northbound interface, built to the Carrier Ethernet 2.0 standard, to allow other operations systems to use BluePlanet to orchestrate their Ethernet services. The upgrade to Cyan Inc. 's Z-series P-OTS hardware brings that system into the 100G era with a 2000% upgrade in capacity and it first 100G multiplexing capabilities.

"It's a good story," says Yankee Group Research Inc. vice president Jennifer Pigg. "Cyan isn't leading the market in 100G by a long shot, but it is keeping up with the actual adoption rate, particularly by its customer base."

Where Cyan is leading the market is in its SDN strategy, especially now with the addition of new orchestration and configuration capabilities, she adds. The challenge will be making the business case work while the telecom industry moves away from its more router-based infrastructure (See Cyan Spins 'Blue Planet' for SDN.)

"Cyan, with its packet-optical technology, its orchestration capabilities and its support for Ethernet overall is banking on the fact that the next-generation network is going to move gradually away from an infrastructure built on routers that are expensive, and complex and expensive to manage," Pigg notes. It's the pace of that move that can be problematic for a company banking so heavily on its execution.

Cyan believes by being out in front of the SDN wave it has moved into a "consultative role" with the 120 companies that have deployed Blue Planet thus far, and that continued development of the multi-vendor orchestration and configuration properties of its platform will increase that role, even with Tier 1 service providers, says Joe Cumello, chief marketing officer for Cyan. That puts Cyan in position to not only guide the move to virtualization but play a significant role going forward (See Colt a Significant Win for Cyan and DukeNet Takes SDN to Demo Phase.)

With this upgrade, Blue Planet can handle end-to-end automated provisioning of MEF services in multi-vendor networks, as well as additional provisioning for both Accedian and RAD Data Communications Ltd. network interface devices. The northbound API is the first of multiple planned APIs to allow Blue Planet to integrate with existing OSSs and other systems.

The northbound API makes it possible for the wide area network (WAN) to be consumed as a programmable resource, says Abel Tong, product manager at Cyan. By specifying the end points and service attributes, they can turn up a CE 2.0 service without worrying about the network spans or domains traversed or which vendor's equipment is involved, he says.

"Other vendors may have ability within their own portfolio only to do an Ethernet service from end to end. We are able to do it on multiple vendors' technologies," Cumello says. "That's where Blue Planet open southbound helps us from end to end standpoint."

The Z-series upgrade creates a much higher capacity metro edge P-OTS box with the ability to handle multiple services, both packet and non-packet, on a very granular basis, Tong says. It adds multiplexing capabilities to Cyan's single-slot coherent transponder as well as a 100G packet switching module, and two multi-degree reconfigurable optical add-drop multiplexers.

The key for Cyan will be how quickly sales of its newer SDN gear ramp up to replace the packet-optical revenue that still makes up 95% of its income, Pigg notes. A steep downturn in sales to its largest customer, Windstream Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: WIN), has financial analysts concerned, but Pigg believes that's more typical of Wall Street attitudes toward telecom vendors than truly predictive of Cyan's future.

— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading

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