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Cyan Punches Up Its Packet Optical Pitch

Vendor upgrades Z-Series platform and adds new SDN APIs in a bid for metro packet optical differentiation.

Dan O'Shea

September 9, 2014

4 Min Read
Cyan Punches Up Its Packet Optical Pitch

Cyan has added some new features to its Z-Series packet-optical platform, along with four new APIs for its Blue Planet SDN offering, enhancements that come as the metro packet-optical market seems poised to explode.

Cyan Inc. has added new Carrier Ethernet 2.0 capabilities, such as the ability to perform hitless software upgrades and traffic policing and shaping, to the Z-Series platform, as well as support for a new 100G DWDM coherent CFP. The vendor also added support for MPLS-TP connection-oriented Ethernet.

Other new features include an eight-degree, 96-channel ROADM module and a new family of integrated erbium-doped fiber amplifier (EDFA) modules. The additions follow earlier upgrades Cyan announced back in February. (See Cyan Enhances Z-Series, Adds SDN APIs and Cyan Packs One-Two Product Upgrade Punch.)

"These upgrades improve the competitiveness of our packet-optical transport platform," said Abel Tong, director of solutions marketing at Cyan. "With the hitless software upgrade capability, we don't touch the data path, so there are absolutely zero bit errors. You can run regular services while you upgrade in-service with no issues."

The MPLS-TP addition is notable because, although it is an established standard, it hasn't exactly set the the packet transport world alight. Cyan has long supported the competing protocol, PBB-TE, but Tong said the vendor remains agnostic to the protocols, and has seen demand for MPLS-TP among customers in Asia/Pacific.

But if Cyan's traditional strength lies in optical and Ethernet, its strength of late lies in SDN, specifically its widely supported and adopted Blue Planet software solution. The new northbound APIs -- including Optical Services, Site Manager, SNMP Trap Forwarding and Physical and Logical Inventory APIs -- extend Blue Planet's ability to provide visibility into multi-domain, multi-layer, multi-vendor environments, Tong said.

Carriers don't need to deploy Cyan's network equipment to use the APIs, as long as the underlying equipment supplier is a member of Cyan's Blue Planet ecosystem and has the necessary element adapter, Tong said. He acknowledged that some of the larger equipment vendors are not part of Cyan's ecosystem, but added that Cyan has been making progress trying to recruit them.

More significantly, Cyan also is working on an element adapter software development kit, said Nirav Modi, director of software innovation at Cyan, via email. "This will allow operators to develop their own [element adapters] for products that are not currently supported by Blue Planet," he said. "This openness allows the operator to deploy Blue Planet without being tied to Cyan for enhancements, and customization. This directly lowers their dependency on Cyan and mitigates any lock-in risk."

Want to know more about packet-optical? Check out Light Reading's dedicated packet-optical content channel.

Cyan's moves comes as the virtually all vendors in the metro packet-optical space are taking stock of their platforms, and rolling out new products and upgrades in anticipation of a very active metro market (fueled by data center interconnectivity), during the next few years. Ciena Corp. (NYSE: CIEN) announced a new packet-optical platform earlier this summer, and the metro market looks set to be a major point of discussion at the upcoming Infinera Corp. (Nasdaq: INFN) analyst and media day event. (See Ciena Stirs Up the Metro Market and Infinera Hints At Metro 100G Launch .)

However, as Cyan continues its own transformation to become more of a software supplier, its software offerings are likely to differentiate it more in this market than any hardware upgrades it makes.

"Although the hardware announcements are important, Cyan will really have to continue to stake its future on software, SDN, and interoperability," noted Heavy Reading analyst Sterling Perrin. "These are the areas in which Cyan has really stood out in the crowded packet-optical space, and why this relatively small vendor continues to get mentioned frequently in my discussions with network operators."

Perrin added that this week's announcement looks like Cyan's attempt to keep up with the table stakes in the packet-optical market. "They will not lead the market in hardware introductions, but they can’t afford to fall behind either," he said.

— Dan O'Shea, Managing Editor, Light Reading

About the Author(s)

Dan O'Shea

Analyst, Heavyreading.com

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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