& cplSiteName &

Ciena Amps Up Software Play, Attacks VNF 'Agility Gap'

Dan O'Shea
12/3/2014
100%
0%

Ciena has added some heft to the attempts of managed services providers -- not to mention Ciena itself -- to compete in an increasingly software-centric telecom universe. The company Wednesday announced a new virtualized software platform and virtual network functions marketplace, as well as a new software-focused business division to help the vendor broaden its offerings from its traditional hardware core competency.

Ciena's Agility Matrix platform, to be generally available in the second quarter of next year, includes two pieces: Director, an operations management and orchestration engine that coordinates the purchase, distribution and delivery of virtual network functions on demand from service providers to enterprise customers; and VNF Market, the online marketplace where enterprise network managers will be able to shop for third-party VNFs, with the ability to buy usage licenses of varying lengths as they see they need for appliances, network services and other applications. VNF Market is launching with five initial third-party partners -- BlackRidge Technology Holdings Inc. , Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD), Certes Networks Inc. , Silver Peak Systems Inc. and Spirent Communications plc . (See Ciena Launches Virtual Software Platform.)

"Network managers would like to consume as much or as little of the network as they need," said Francois Locoh-Donou, senior vice president, Global Products Group at Ciena Corp. (NYSE: CIEN), during a press conference this morning. "Service providers are facing flatter revenue for wireline services and difficulty customizing their networks to deliver services to customers in real time. They both are faced with an agility gap."

Ciena's answer to filling that gap is to leverage virtualized software, making it easier for MSPs to offer, deliver and bill for VNFs to support their enterprise customers' needs, instead of having to buy physical appliances in bulk to sell and ship to their customers through their own typically cumbersome ordering cycles. It's a progressive concept that sounds good in spirit, but are service providers ready to jump into a pay-as-you-go model?

"There may be some commercial resistance to selling network services in a pay-as-you-go model but this is weakening," said Caroline Chappell, senior analyst at Heavy Reading. "It's just the way the world is going, and the customer experience enterprise customers now expect as a result of IT consumerization. The question is, how quickly can service providers bring this capability to market, and Ciena addresses that."


Want to know more about NFV? Check out our NFV content channel here on Light Reading.


This is a major move by Ciena on the virtualization revolution. Traditional network hardware vendors, particularly on the WAN side, have taken their time joining this revolution. Ciena earlier this year partnered with Ericsson to develop an SDN controller and other solutions, but with this new platform and marketplace offering, the vendor also is committing big resources internally, launching a software-focused Agility division currently staffed with 100 employees and led by telecom veteran Kevin Sheehan. The division will take responsibility for both Ciena's SDN and NFV efforts.

"It's a bit of a startup within the larger company, but we're working with the existing Ciena sales team," Sheehan said. "We think this should increase demand for VNFs from carriers, and create more immediate up-sell opportunities for them to offer related VNFs once they have an order from a customer."

Chappell called the overall effort a "radically new offering" by Ciena that other vendors may follow. Some aspects, however, bear some resemblance to how Nuage Networks is working to help carriers get SDN applications into the business market. Also, some carriers offer their own self-service portals designed to do a similar job with cloud services catalogs. In addition, Virtela, now owned by NTT Communications Corp. (NYSE: NTT), has moved in a similar direction, Chappell noted. (See Nuage Looks to Help Carriers Drive Downmarket With SDN and NFV Lets NTT America Flex Its Networks.)

— Dan O'Shea, Managing Editor, Light Reading

(0)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Featured Video
From The Founder
John Chambers is still as passionate about business and innovation as he ever was at Cisco, finds Steve Saunders.
Flash Poll
Upcoming Live Events
September 12, 2018, Los Angeles, CA
September 24-26, 2018, Westin Westminster, Denver
October 9, 2018, The Westin Times Square, New York
October 23, 2018, Georgia World Congress Centre, Atlanta, GA
November 6, 2018, London, United Kingdom
November 7-8, 2018, London, United Kingdom
November 8, 2018, The Montcalm by Marble Arch, London
November 15, 2018, The Westin Times Square, New York
December 4-6, 2018, Lisbon, Portugal
All Upcoming Live Events
Hot Topics
Telecom Jargonosaurus Part 1: Repeat Offenders
Iain Morris, News Editor, 7/13/2018
Broadcom Buys CA – Huh?
Mitch Wagner, Executive Editor, Light Reading, 7/11/2018
Verizon Taps Malady as Acting CTO
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 7/12/2018
FCC's Rosenworcel: US 'Falling Behind' on 5G
Iain Morris, News Editor, 7/13/2018
Netflix Is Growing, but Don't Ask by How Much
Phil Harvey, US News Editor, 7/16/2018
Animals with Phones
Casual Tuesday Takes On New Meaning Click Here
When you forget your pants.
Live Digital Audio

A CSP's digital transformation involves so much more than technology. Crucial – and often most challenging – is the cultural transformation that goes along with it. As Sigma's Chief Technology Officer, Catherine Michel has extensive experience with technology as she leads the company's entire product portfolio and strategy. But she's also no stranger to merging technology and culture, having taken a company — Tribold — from inception to acquisition (by Sigma in 2013), and she continues to advise service providers on how to drive their own transformations. This impressive female leader and vocal advocate for other women in the industry will join Women in Comms for a live radio show to discuss all things digital transformation, including the cultural transformation that goes along with it.

Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed