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Ciena Absorbs Cyan for New IP Onslaught

Dan O'Shea
8/6/2015
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The first beneficiary of Ciena's completed Cyan acquisition should be the Blue Planet software so central to the deal, which now gains the marketing energies and foot soldiers of a much larger firm to spread the word about Blue Planet's ability to manage complex New IP environments.

The newly combined entity also plans to gradually integrate some aspects of Ciena Corp. (NYSE: CIEN)'s and Cyan Inc. 's existing software platforms where efficiencies can be achieved. Hardware-wise, Ciena is intent on supporting Cyan's Z-Series packet-optical gear, but Cyan's N-Series data center interconnection platform is not getting the same vote of confidence.

The close of the acquisition was announced earlier this week, following news last Friday that 71% of Cyan shareholders had voted by proxy to approve the acquisition. With the deal closing, Ciena effectively merges Cyan's operations -- including about 200 people from a firm that reportedly had about 265 people before the deal -- with its existing Agility software division, calling the combined group the Blue Planet Division, after Cyan's much-touted SDN software platform. (See Ciena Closes Cyan Acquisition.)

The group is headed by former Cyan President Mike Hatfield, now senior vice president of Ciena, with former Cyan marketing exec Joe Cumello as vice president of marketing for the division and former Agility group chief Kevin Sheehan serving as vice president of field operations. Cumello tells Light Reading the most immediate post-acquisition change will be reflected in the bigger marketing push that Ciena provides to Blue Planet, specifically around its ability to enable multi-domain service orchestration in service providers' New IP environments.

"We've always talked about the concept of multi-domain service orchestration," Cumello says. "That's the ability to stitch services together end to end, whether it's physical or virtual infrastructure, so a carrier or operator can create a service across many different domains, whether it be the NFV domain or the SDN domain or the hardware domain. Cyan and Ciena together bring a lot more marketing resources to bear. [Cyan] lacked the incumbency around the world to do that. We had a good sales team, but we didn't have feet everywhere. Ciena brings those feet."

Sheehan adds that Ciena's feet will have marching orders to market and sell Blue Planet and Ciena's existing Agility NFV software separately for now, as the combined engineering groups study where, when and how to integrate those platforms. (See Ciena Amps Up Software Play, Attacks VNF 'Agility Gap'.)

"Over time we'll be looking to gain efficiencies by putting different code streams together for products that need to exist in a similar application or in a similar space so we don't have as many software streams to maintain," Sheehan says. "But, for now we forge ahead with the products as they were and developed by the teams as they were."


Want to know more the New IP evolution? Check out our dedicated New IP content channel right here on Light Reading.


Sheehan and Cumello also reiterate that Ciena will continue to support Cyan's Z-Series packet optical gear. Though it has been clear from the beginning that the acquisition was driven largely by Cyan's software strength, Ciena sees opportunities for Cyan's hardware alongside its own. The companies underscored the value of Cyan's existing hardware by including a supportive quote from Windstream Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: WIN), believed to be Cyan's largest Z-Series customer, in the press release announcing the closing of the deal. (See Ciena's Cyan Buy: It's All About the Software.)

When asked about the future of the N-Series, which Cyan announced earlier this year, Cumello would say nothing more than, "There has been no announcement made yet as to what's going to happen with the N-Series." The lack of detail suggests that Ciena's WaveServer, which was announced after Cyan's N-Series, will be the lead attraction for the combined company in terms of DCI hardware.

In terms of software, the press release also included a quote from Blue Planet customer CenturyLink Inc. (NYSE: CTL), the third largest telco in the US. While Ciena was just starting to penetrate the software world, it's now clear that with Cyan on board the company has set a course for the New IP. (See Ciena Surfs DCI Wave With New Platform, Cyan Targets DCI With 34 Terabit Platform and EuroProfile: Astellia.)

— Dan O'Shea, Managing Editor, Light Reading

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