Ciena Gets Ready to Leap Into 2020

The optical networking leader is pounding the table for webscale providers and telcos to move straight to 800G in the coming year, minimizing the competitive momentum of several vendors in the 600G space.

Phil Harvey, Editor-in-Chief

December 24, 2019

2 Min Read
Ciena Gets Ready to Leap Into 2020

The race to deliver 600G (and beyond) optical networking systems will kick into high gear during 2020. Naturally, the current market leader for 400G systems, Ciena, is the vendor to watch.

Nearly a year ago, in "2019 Trends to Watch: Optical Networking," Ovum Principal Analyst Don Frey wrote that Ciena's aim for 800G would be to try to leapfrog its [400G] competitors to "maintain lead and pressure the market."

Ciena got the first-mover advantage in the 400G market and it has been growing its market share steadily. But this year the vendor's competition -- including Adva, Cisco (which owns Acacia), Huawei, Infinera and Nokia, to name a few -- all began offering 600G line-rate support, faster than Ciena's 400G-capable Waveserver AI system, which started shipping back in 2017.

Also, this year, Ciena debuted its 800G technology, WaveLogic 5, which was announced in February. Ciena announced that the Internet2 consortium was a WaveLogic 5 customer in October, several months before the systems would be commercially available. "WaveLogic 5 offers a significant re-establishment of Ciena’s price/performance advantage in the overall WDM marketplace," wrote Jeffries analyst George Notter in a note to clients on Dec. 12.

In 2020, Ciena will continue to dial up the pressure on customers and the market to skip 600G and go straight to 800G. Ciena's CEO Gary Smith, a few weeks ago, told Light Reading that 2020 will be the year to watch 800G progress.

"I don't think you're going to see a lot of penetration into 600 gig in the webscale [customers], frankly, because it's just not worth the adoption and integration costs that these players have -- and they got very large networks now," Smith said. "I just think from an economics point of view and an operational point of view, it's just not worth the stop off, you know, given the fact that 800 will be in-market soon."

Network traffic is still growing faster than the price declines for optical networking gear, so Ciena's in an interesting spot to move the market in 2020, and be challenged at every turn.

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Phil Harvey, US Bureau Chief, Light Reading

About the Author(s)

Phil Harvey

Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

Phil Harvey has been a Light Reading writer and editor for more than 18 years combined. He began his second tour as the site's chief editor in April 2020.

His interest in speed and scale means he often covers optical networking and the foundational technologies powering the modern Internet.

Harvey covered networking, Internet infrastructure and dot-com mania in the late 90s for Silicon Valley magazines like UPSIDE and Red Herring before joining Light Reading (for the first time) in late 2000.

After moving to the Republic of Texas, Harvey spent eight years as a contributing tech writer for D CEO magazine, producing columns about tech advances in everything from supercomputing to cellphone recycling.

Harvey is an avid photographer and camera collector – if you accept that compulsive shopping and "collecting" are the same.

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