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OFC: Ciena Smartens Up Photonic Layer

Dan O'Shea

SAN FRANCISCO -- OFC 2014 -- Early in this week of OFC 2014, it's becoming clear already that optical networking vendors are working to get the photonics layer of the network in tune with the anticipated arrival of SDN and NFV. Count Ciena Corp. (NYSE: CIEN) as part of that trend with the announcement of its WaveLogic Photonics software-driven capabilities for packet optical networks. (See Ciena Unveils WaveLogic Photonics and Defining SDN & NFV.)

The new tools include functions for the vendor's OneConnect Intelligent Control Plane expanding its network visibility and intelligence capabilities from the OTN switching layer across the photonic layer; Smart Raman automated, pre-activation testing and monitoring of fiber conditions; and PinPoint analytics software integrating Optical Time Domain Reflectometer capabilities into network elements to enable more precise fiber monitoring and the creation of fiber loss profiles.

"All layers of the network need to become more programmable to application needs," says Mike Adams, vice president of product and technical marketing at Ciena. "The more visibility you have into the photonic layer, the easier it is to think of that layer as programmable."

Why this matters
We're starting to see optical vendors respond to carrier demand for more software control capabilities throughout the network. Infinera did something quite similar with its own OFC announcement regarding new multi-layer control plane capabilities.

This might be some recognition that SDN and NFV are having an impact at every layer of the network -- if not directly, then at least as a ripple effect. The entire network is changing with the arrival via SDN and NFV of new levels of programmability and virtualization, and not just discreet parts like data centers or enterprises with distributed branches.

Ciena has had a funny little love/hate relationship with the term "SDN." The company steered wide of even mentioning it in its positioning back in 2012. Then, at last fall's Ethernet & SDN Expo, Ciena famously claimed that SDN was "underhyped." With the vendor's recent partnership announcement with Ericsson, we saw acknowledgment of the need for tighter integration between IP/Ethernet and optical. Now we are seeing Ciena's SDN story come together a bit more as it positions its lower network layers to support the SDN migration more directly affecting the upper layers.

"Before we even get to SDN, service providers are realizing that time-to-service is a critical element to differentiation," Adams said. "So they want the capability to point and click for automated turnup of services, as well as get service restored without a truck roll if there's a problem."

— Dan O'Shea, Managing Editor, Light Reading

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User Rank: Blogger
3/10/2014 | 9:29:33 PM
Re: Theme of the day
I don't think so. Ciena has been pretty involved in the ONF and working with OpenFlow in public demos. However, its openness to OpenFlow, and the commitment that other optical vendors supposedly have to OpenFlow is about to be tested. It looks like the new Open Source Optical Forum is taunting traditional optical vendors like Ciena in the same way the data center SDN start-ups are taunting Cisco.
Mitch Wagner
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
3/10/2014 | 9:01:52 PM
Re: Theme of the day
I'm seeing a theme among vendors, with some embracing the spirit of SDN while pushing back against specific technology, namely OpenFlow. Does Ciena fit in that category?
User Rank: Light Beer
3/10/2014 | 6:29:08 PM
Re: Theme of the day
 What companies are involved in network assurance and reliability and visibility.  i know that jdsu has made some purchases of arieso and has packet portal.  who else is helping the carriers to have less truck rolls and with SDN
Carol Wilson
Carol Wilson,
User Rank: Blogger
3/10/2014 | 4:42:18 PM
Theme of the day
"Before we even get to SDN, service providers are realizing that time-to-service is a critical element to differentiation," Adams said.

That is certainly what everyone is pushing now -- time to service, with or without virtualization.
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