Optical/IP Networks

Cyan Aiming High With Management Play

Can a packet-optical startup become the company that gives network operators the software and service tools to plan and manage massively scalable networks?

Cyan Optics Inc. hopes so. The two-year-old packet-optical equipment vendor, which now prefers the name Cyan Inc., has been moving more deeply into network management software and services lately. On Monday, it's announcing its biggest leap yet: the Cy360 platform and a technology it calls Service Level Aware Networks.

The multilayer approach to managing networks is something that Cyan launched with its Z-series packet-optical products and the companion CyMS in 2009, and enhanced with CyMS Version 2.3 in 2010. Cyan now hopes to prove that its software can be used independently of its optical gear to solve big-time problems it believes network operators will face in having to continually scale their optical platforms and the services that ride over them.

Monday's announcements also include the CyPortal, a Web-based tool that tracks real-time network performance and Ethernet service-level agreements by watching International Telecommunication Union, Standardization Sector (ITU-T) Y.1731 data. Initially, CyPortal only supports gear from Cyan, Overture Networks Inc. and Accedian , but Cyan plans to expand the type of support provided and the number of vendors, says Frank Wiener, vice president of marketing and international sales.

A third component, CyPlan, helps CyPortal customers (guess what) plan and manage the network.

Cyan is offering CyPortal as a standalone product on a software-as-a-service basis. The company already offers smaller network operators a cloud-based Network Operations Center capability. (See Cyan Wants to Help Bridge the Chasm.)

DukeNet, a competitive fiber-optic network operator providing wholesale and enterprise services in the Southeast, is CyPortal's first customer, using the system its network of Overture OSG 24 and OSG 26 network interface devices at 600 wireless towers.

Why this matters
To meet SLA requirements these days, network operators need to plan and characterize their networks across physical and logical layers, and they need to determine the exact performance between nodes or on an end-to-end service basis, Wiener says.

The lofty goals for this set of products include the management of multiple services through one system. Network resources can then be allocated with more of a plan, rather than being handed out discretely to different services.

Eve Griliches, managing partner with ACG Research , thinks Cyan has identified a key problem and has also created some nifty sales tools for operators, such as CyPortal's ability to link to Google Maps.

"Sales guys can understand and see that there is a hospital along that route or a restaurant. There is a lot more information available to help service providers actually increase their revenues," Griliches says.

For more
Cyan's focus on management has been part of what's kept it in the headlines. Here, see for yourself.

— Carol Wilson, Chief Editor, Events, Light Reading

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chechaco 12/5/2012 | 5:05:47 PM
re: Cyan Aiming High With Management Play

Just thinking outloud ...

Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 5:05:46 PM
re: Cyan Aiming High With Management Play

Possibly. Cyan isn't in exactly the same position (it's got another business that's still viable, at least AFAIK). 

I like the idea, academically, but Cyan is going to need to support more types of equipment, and that could be slow going. That's the problem Soapstone ran into, isn't it?

vernywerny 12/5/2012 | 5:05:34 PM
re: Cyan Aiming High With Management Play

Soapstone was purely a software company. Cyan does indeed have more than one string to it's bow.

By supporting Overture and Accedian ethernet NiD's, Cyan has effectively released a multi-vendor standalone software product from the beginning. I imagine other vendor NE will follow on a case by case basis. A smart move if you ask me.


Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 5:05:33 PM
re: Cyan Aiming High With Management Play

Thanks, vernywerny.  Don't get me wrong; I love that Soapstone is doing this.  Ever since my very first meeting with them, i've been asking them if something like this is 1) on their roadmap and 2) a feasible business.

I'm still not convinced of (2).  Getting more vendors would really help.  No offense to Overture and Accedian, but their names don't exactly add up to a revolution.  Problem is, most of the bigger names compete with Cyan at some layer(s) and have no motivation to help these guys out.

vernywerny 12/5/2012 | 5:05:29 PM
re: Cyan Aiming High With Management Play

Come on Craig, keep up! :-)

When you say Soapstone, I think you mean Cyan.

1. Overture and Accedian make Ethernet NiDs. Inexpensive inline Y1731 measurement devices. In effect, an optical repeater. They are not competing with any of the large vendors so they don't have to be big.

2. The above devices can be connected to ANY vendors network equipment. Hence a multi-vendor solution from Day 1.

3. Most of the network equipment out there today does not support Y1731 - it has to be done in hardware on the linecard. Hence the huge requirement for Ethernet NiDs.

4. The support of other vendors Y1731 capable network equipment is actually fairly trivial and doesn't require any co-operation from other vendors (they can just poll the platform using SNMP so all they need are the MiBs). So we can expect to see CyPortal support other vendors fairly soon.

5. Your own article identifies a large customer win for CyPortal straight out of the gate! This is a software product with virtually no set-up and maintenance costs for both Cyan and the Service Provider, who would simply pass on the cost to their customers as a value added service.

How can you possibly say they don't have a feasible business?!!!



paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 5:05:28 PM
re: Cyan Aiming High With Management Play


The reason is that a viable business must have a positive ROI and therefore customers must be willing to pay a significant net margin after development and support costs.

There are a couple of ways that might be used to justify this kind of development:

1 - They are going to get enough extra money out of the sale of the software directly to make the cost worth it.

2 - They are going to sell enough of their other products based on the availability of this capability to justify the cost of development.

3 - This might be a capability desired by a large vendor and thus make the IP inside Cyan worth buying the company for.

Now they have introduced the initial capability and it is "multivendor".  What Craig is saying point-blank is that it is 3 irrelevant vendors in the grand scheme of vendors.  They might be nice guys with solid products, but they make not a ripple on the ocean of the market.

What would it take to get somebody like one of the following smaller vendors that have a lot more market power - Ciena, Extreme, Tellabs, Force10, into this system.  Until they do something like that, then there is not a viable business.  To get a set of vendors like Cisco, Juniper, Huawei, ZTE, or Alcatel in this is where it needs to go.

So, which of the 3 (or are there more) business justifications will Cyan follow to make their product a viable business.



vernywerny 12/5/2012 | 5:05:24 PM
re: Cyan Aiming High With Management Play

Hi Seven, Craig,

I agree with you, none of the mentioned organisations are going for world domination, but that wasn't the question. The question was do we think they have a feasible business. My point was that as the CyPortal solution is multi-vendor and could be deployed on any of the vendors networks you mention it looks like a strong proposition. You're right in that it would be even stronger if they fully integrated the major vendors, let's wait and see if they do before we dismiss them.

They don't have to be huge to be successful, as you said yourself, they just need to turn a profit.

Guess I just like rooting for the little guy!

Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 5:05:24 PM
re: Cyan Aiming High With Management Play

> What Craig is saying point-blank is that it is 3 irrelevant vendors in the grand scheme of vendors.  They might be nice guys with solid products, but they make not a ripple on the ocean of the market.

Thanks, seven, that's exactly what I'm saying.

But vernywerny is right that I said "Soapstone" when I meant "Cyan". (Unless I'm getting it backwards yet again.  :)

paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 5:05:22 PM
re: Cyan Aiming High With Management Play


We agree on the question.  From a Cyan perspective, the question is:

How are they going to make the money back from the investment and how much additional investment is required in support, additional features, and broader product support?

Will a carrier buy from Cyan because of this functionality?  My guess is no.

Will a carrier that already buys from Cyan buy this functionality?  Maybe.



thekilted1 12/5/2012 | 5:05:11 PM
re: Cyan Aiming High With Management Play

I disagree. We are a CLEC looking to upgrade our backbone, and we are leaning strongly towards Cyan (which we've never used before) mainly because of the CyX suite. The ability to design our network in Google Maps, which shows cell towers, enterprise customers, etc along our fiber routes, plus the fact that the tool measures load on the device and builds the BOM as circuits are added is a huge plus. And SLA measurements that we can open up to customers is very helpful too.

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