Data Center Interconnect

Ciena Surfs DCI Wave With New Platform

The list of vendors with dedicated data center interconnect (DCI) platforms now includes Ciena, though at first glance it doesn't look much like a me-too offering: Ciena is launching the platform alongside a new prototype emulation capability that encourages customization by customers and application development third parties.

The Waveserver, announced Wednesday, is described by Ciena Corp. (NYSE: CIEN) as a "stackable interconnect platform" that targets the unique footprint, cost and capacity requirements of web-scale and cloud companies, and others needing massive bandwidth bridges between data centers. (See Ciena Waveserver Targets Data Center Interconnect.)

Like other optical vendors, Ciena has decided that segment of the market, and that particular application, deserves a platform all its own. To date, Ciena's 6500 Packet-Optical Platform often has been used in point-to-point data center interconnect (DCI) applications. Also, the company's 8700 Packetwave metro Ethernet aggregation platform, announced almost a year ago, is described on Ciena corporate blogs as supporting some aspects of DCI.

However, the Waveserver is a "more stripped down" platform that nevertheless brings multi-terabit capacity and other features to its compact design via Ciena's WaveLogic Extreme chipset, which supports 16 QAM for 200 Gbit/s per wavelength. Rick Dodd, senior vice president of portfolio marketing and strategic market development at Ciena, tells Light Reading: "The Waveserver is not something you'll use if you're building a big metro aggregation network," he tells Light Reading. "There are capabilities on the 8700 that we left off of the Waveserver, but the common chipsets are what give us the space, cost and density advantages." (See Ciena Addresses Rise of Web-Scale Dynamics.)

The most distinct aspect of Waveserver, however, might be in its software approach, which includes REST APIs in the unit, but also the new Emulation Cloud capability being unveiled alongside the Waveserver platform this week. Dodd says Emulation Cloud is a "prototyping environment" that allows customers, potential customers and even third-party application developers access to an emulated version of a Waveserver unit through a browser on their desktops.

"Customers can have a unit to test without needing to bring one into their lab or coming to visit our lab," Dodd says. "A third-party developer with a cool idea can create on top of the Waveserver with their own application. We're trying to proliferate the number of people capable of developing something on top of the Waveserver platform."

Want to know more about the data center interconnect sector? Then attend the DCI summit at Light Reading's second Big Telecom Event on June 9-10 in Chicago. Get yourself registered today or get left behind!

That might help Ciena stand out from the crowd of vendors with dedicated DCI platforms, a crowd which, it should be noted, includes Cyan Inc. , a company Ciena is in the process of acquiring. (See Cyan Targets DCI With 34 Terabit Platform and Ciena's Cyan Buy: It's All About the Software.)

Cyan announced its N-Series platform targeting DCI in February, and it appeared at the time the acquisition was announced last month to be a product that could fill a gap in Ciena's product catalog. With the unveiling of the Waveserver, it's unclear how much the two product may overlap and what could become of the N-Series when the Cyan acquisition closes.

Dodd declined to comment, citing the fact that the deal is still in the works.

The DCI market is already crowded: Among the vendors already entrenched and doing business are:

For more in the DCI market see:

— Dan O'Shea, Managing Editor, Light Reading

Annabell 8/1/2016 | 12:50:24 PM
Re: Differentiation in DCI good
DOShea 5/29/2015 | 3:02:42 PM
Re: Differentiation in DCI Ciena followed up with more info a few days ago, and I've neglected to post it. Company statement: "Waveserver features flexible client interfaces, allowing the mixing and matching of 10G/40G/100G with a smooth transition between rates through the ease of use of QSFP and QSFP28 pluggables. If you'd like additional background we do have a data sheet on this product that you can check out here: http://www.ciena.com/resources/data-sheets/Waveserver.html?src=waveserver."
DOShea 5/21/2015 | 1:15:10 PM
Re: Differentiation in DCI Ciena did describe moving between 10G/40G/100G as a "plug change," thoough I will see if I can get a more in-depth explanation.

Re: the N-Series, Ciena wanted no part of comparing/contrasting the two products, but I agree with dwx, N-Series seems to have a pretty limited future as the companies combine, unless someone comes up with a reason why/how they can co-exist.

Re: differentiation, Emulation Cloud could prove to be an interesting change-up in the DCI market, or at least stir some application development around Ciena's product.

dwx 5/20/2015 | 10:34:58 AM
Re: Differentiation in DCI So it's basically the same as the N-series, but the N-series IMHO is a better box because it's modular.   It's actually four slots with the initial 2x100G/200G 16-QAM card being two slots.  However, the box can support single slot and 4-slot cards.   IMHO with this you are probably overpaying because everything is fixed and you either have 100G or 10/40G ports you can't use.   

Nevertheless, I see the Cyan N-series going the way of the dinosaur with the acquisition, for pure 100G they are exactly the same thing.  
[email protected] 5/20/2015 | 10:01:51 AM
Differentiation in DCI Withb the market so crowded, every vendor will need some sort of diffrentiation. 

Is this the killer differentiation? Let's see...
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