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Ciena Introduces Management Tools to Make Networks Flexible

The Ciena Agility Multilayer WAN Controller is designed to allow carriers to optimize wide-area networks for the needs of cloud and enterprise customers.

Mitch Wagner

July 9, 2014

4 Min Read
Ciena Introduces Management Tools to Make Networks Flexible

Ciena today introduced WAN management software designed to help carriers provide meet the unpredictable bandwidth demands of today's enterprise and cloud customers.

The Ciena Corp. (NYSE: CIEN) Agility Multilayer WAN Controller is designed to allow carriers to optimize wide-area networks. It's built on the OpenDaylight SDN controller, to enhance interoperability with other vendors' hardware and software. Ciena, which recently won Light Reading's Leading Lights award this year for Best New Product (Telecom) for its WaveLogic Photonics, first talked about its SDN controller plans in March this year. (See Ciena Develops an SDN Controller, Leading Lights Awards 2014: The Winners, and Defining SDN & NFV.)

The Agility controller will work with four apps to handle different elements of network configuration:

Navigate automatically determines the best possible route through the network to establish a connection.

Protect determines alternate routes in case the initial route runs into problems.

Optimize defragments the network to free up available resources by reallocating capacity and fine-tuning connection routing.

V-WAN allows enterprise and cloud customers to schedule their own bandwidth on demand through end-user portals or applications such as a cloud or NFV orchestration system.

V-WAN has its own applications, including MyPerformance, for performance monitoring; MyPortal, a web portal application to allow customers to request bandwidth on demand and verify delivery and performance; and MyAdapter and On-Demand Service VPNs.

MyAdapter plugs into enterprise or cloud network applications to allow the carrier customers' applications to request bandwidth automatically. For example, an enterprise customer using VMware Inc. (NYSE: VMW) software to manage multiple cloud datacenters might use MyAdapter to allow VMware to automatically request bandwidth as needed.

MyAdapter can also orchestrate across multiple domains, automating bandwidth allocations between local metro network operators, regional providers or exchange providers, and datacenter cloud operators such as Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) Azure. "The enterprise doesn't need a permanent connection to a particular cloud operator. They can at will select who they want to connect to, and just pay for the amount of capacity from their datacenter to the cloud operator for a particular transaction," says Mitch Auster, Ciena senior director, market development.

Finally, On-Demand Service VPNs allows carriers' customers to set up virtual WANS between multiple sites, scheduling resources on an as-needed basis.

The Agility software suite is entering trials with Tier 1 operators, and will be available later this year.

I pumped Auster for information about interoperability with other vendor solutions. I've been hung up on this subject since the weekend, when I came across this conversation on the Software Defined Networking Group on LinkedIn. Greg Whalen, a management consultant with Greywale Management, asks: "If everyone is selling a 'single pane of glass' solution don't you end up with multiple 'single panes of glass'?"

I asked Auster if the Ciena software will work with other vendors' products. He said it will -- that's why they used OpenDaylight as the basis for the product. The Agility controller supports the OpenDaylight Service Abstraction Layer, allowing multiple vendor management programs to interoperate with the Agility software.

We went back and forth, with Auster declining to name specific names of any other vendors' whose products the Ciena software will work with. He kept pointing back to Agility's compliance with the OpenDaylight standard. But of course compliance with standards is only a start -- interoperability requires real-world testing.

As Auster resisted naming names, my malarkey-meter was on red alert. It looked like this:

But then Auster said Ciena will offer professional services to ensure that its products work with other products used by its network operator customers.

So there's that. Network operators will have the opportunity to ensure the Ciena software works on their own network configurations before they buy.

Auster and I also got into some interesting discussion of the business and technology conditions that are placing new demands for flexibility on carrier networks. But this article has gone on long enough -- I'll save that discussion for another article, coming soon.

More about Ciena:

— Mitch Wagner, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profileFollow me on Facebook, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading. Got a tip about SDN or NFV? Send it to [email protected].

About the Author(s)

Mitch Wagner

Executive Editor, Light Reading

San Diego-based Mitch Wagner is many things. As well as being "our guy" on the West Coast (of the US, not Scotland, or anywhere else with indifferent meteorological conditions), he's a husband (to his wife), dissatisfied Democrat, American (so he could be President some day), nonobservant Jew, and science fiction fan. Not necessarily in that order.

He's also one half of a special duo, along with Minnie, who is the co-habitor of the West Coast Bureau and Light Reading's primary chewer of sticks, though she is not the only one on the team who regularly munches on bark.

Wagner, whose previous positions include Editor-in-Chief at Internet Evolution and Executive Editor at InformationWeek, will be responsible for tracking and reporting on developments in Silicon Valley and other US West Coast hotspots of communications technology innovation.

Beats: Software-defined networking (SDN), network functions virtualization (NFV), IP networking, and colored foods (such as 'green rice').

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