Ciena Surfs DCI Wave With New Platform

Ciena adds a dedicated data center interconnect product to its line-up, along with APIs and cloud emulation to encourage app development.

Dan O'Shea, Analyst,

May 20, 2015

4 Min Read
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:

  • ADVA Optical Networking

  • Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU)

  • BTI Systems Inc.

  • Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO)

  • Coriant

  • Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd.

  • Infinera Corp. (Nasdaq: INFN)

  • MRV Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: MRVC)

  • Transmode Systems AB (which is being acquired by Infinera)

For more in the DCI market see:

— Dan O'Shea, Managing Editor, Light Reading

About the Author(s)

Dan O'Shea


You want Dans? We got 'em! This one, "Fancy" Dan O'Shea, has been covering the telecom industry for 20 years, writing about virtually every technology segment and winning several ASBPE awards in the process. He previously served as editor-in-chief of Telephony magazine, and was the founding editor of FierceTelecom. Grrrr! Most recently, this sleep-deprived father of two young children has been a Chicago-based freelance writer, and continues to pontificate on non-telecom topics such as fantasy sports, craft beer, baseball and other subjects that pay very little but go down well at parties. In his spare time he claims to be reading Ulysses (yeah, right), owns fantasy sports teams that almost never win, and indulges in some fieldwork with those craft beers. So basically, it's time to boost those bar budgets, folks!

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