SAN FRANCISCO -- OFC 2014 -- It's fair to say that long-standing Ciena CEO Gary Smith is pumped.
"I've been in this industry for 30 years and have never been more excited than I am now to be in the networking business," he told a packed plenary session here Tuesday. [Editor's note: Check to see if he said last year that he'd never been more excited in the past 29 years…]
Smith, who has been Ciena's chief for a remarkable 12 years, told hundreds of networking executives that "the network matters again… for the past five to 10 years it hasn't had a starring role." Instead, the content providers have hogged the limelight, but that can change as end users of all types become increasingly reliant on dependable networks that can meet their immediate needs.
To do that, though, the networking sector needs to embrace virtualization in order to deliver on-demand capabilities. "The virtualization trend has really been limited to compute and storage, with the network in a supporting role. The next logical step is the virtualization of the network, and the opportunity to do that is right now."
To achieve that will require a shift in the way the telecom sector thinks about its assets, stated Smith. "We think of the network as infrastructure but we need to think differently… start thinking about end user application-driven behavior… and how service creation can be achieved in hours and minutes and not months and years."
That requires an "open" network architecture with APIs that can pass control commands around the network, a "fundamental change" to the way networks have been built until now, stated the Ciena CEO. (See 6 Degrees of Separation: SPs Define 'Open'.)
"We need to build networks differently, with packet-optical convergence and programmability and openness and analytics in the network, to be able to see what's happening and change the network accordingly. And this is not incremental change. This is not 100G to 400G. This is about how to build the network -- putting programmability and intelligence into the network," he noted, without even referencing his company's latest announcements. (See OFC: Ciena Smartens Up Photonic Layer.)
"Critically, it's about an ecosystem -- an equal partnership [for the network] with compute and storage -- all three need to work tightly in an ecosystem. And no one company has the ability to deliver all of this. Everyone needs to play nicely and that's not something we’ve always seen historically, especially in compute and storage, but it's needed."
And Smith ended his speech with a rallying cry for the industry. "It's about transforming capacity into capability. That's what this is about. Not just about moving bits, but about what you do with those bits. We need to make the network as programmable as an iPad," and be able to add new services and apps simply by "dropping" them onto the programmable network. "It can't take a year to develop a new service any more -- this is about changing our mindset."
The Ciena CEO concluded: "We have to continue on the curve of capacity growth to 1Tbit/s and beyond -- that's critical. But we need to deliver more than that, to deliver value to the network. We need to make the network matter even more," proclaimed Smith.
So a grand rallying cry for the networking sector... now all the network operators need is a business case. (See The Most Depressing And/Or Inspirational Thing You'll Read Today.)
For more from OFC, see:
- OMG... It's OFC! Part 1
- Open Source Breaks Optical Barriers
- Going Beyond 100G? Not So Fast…
- ClariPhy Tackles Coherent Metro Nets
- Windstream Taps Infinera for National Buildout
- Who Will Buy Intune Networks?
- Infinera Flexes Its Multi-Layer Muscles
- SDN Specs Bodies Come Under Fire
- Calient, Packetcounter Team on 40G
- Vendors Form Data Center 100G WDM Group
- Anritsu Unveils 400G Test Solution
- JDSU Preps Optical Components, Test Gear for OFC
- Fujitsu Demos, Launches Products at OFC
— Ray Le Maistre, , Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading