Coriant Boasts 'SDN-Plus' System

Optical network management system goes beyond software-defined networking (SDN), says CEO

June 18, 2013

4 Min Read
Coriant Boasts 'SDN-Plus' System

Recently formed optical equipment vendor Coriant has announced the commercial availability of a network management system that, it hopes, will help differentiate it from its main rivals and consolidate its position as a leading transport systems supplier to telcos worldwide.

And as you would expect, software-defined networking (SDN) is in the mix, but as CEO Herbert Merz explains to Light Reading, it's only part of Coriant's pitch.

The Service Provider Information Technology (SPIT) system in question is Intelligent Optical Control (IOC), a package of cloud-based capabilities that Coriant, which is owned by Marlin Equity Partners, has been referencing since the OFC event in March. (See page 4 of this interview -- Coriant Counts on NSN's Optical Strengths).

And it's something that has been in development for some time, almost two years, so this has its roots in the optical division of Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN), which Marlin Equity acquired earlier this year to form Coriant. (See Euronews: Coriant Goes Solo, Coriant's OFC Outing and NSN to Sell Optical Business.)

So, what is IOC?
IOC is an online network management, provisioning and planning tool that, in theory, enables network operators to manage their optical networking assets and capacity in a more efficient and near real-time way, including the ability to reconfigure the network using the software tools to suit current service requirements. It's based on Coriant's existing OSS tools, namely its Telecommunication Network Management System (TNMS), its TransNet optical planning tool and its TransConnect provisioning tool.

This is more than the application of SDN techniques, says Merz. "This is SDN-plus. It's not enough to just have intelligence in the SDN [elements] -- you have to have intelligence in the network too. IOC goes beyond what is usually defined as SDN and has been developed specifically for optical networks.

Merz notes that planning software tools are traditionally used offline and network elements are pre-configured, whereas IOC has planning, provisioning and management of an optical network as an online, always-available system that can be used for "more efficient optimization and routing -- operators can pre-define their services" and the network is then configured to provision those services without any manual intervention.

The CEO says IOC has been supplied to a major operator for lab tests and that it will be deployed in a production network soon. "It's a very big customer ... IOC has been proven to work."

Coriant is very bullish about the benefits, citing some eyebrow-raising claims for capex savings. (See Coriant Unveils Optical Control Tool.)

It's SDN, Jim…
This all sounds very useful and something that, if it works in multivendor networks, as Coriant says it will, could provide significant benefits.

But why hang the SDN tag on it?

Merz accepts this might pose some issues. "We are proposing an SDN-plus approach and we have called it IOC so that we don't use the SDN name. We're trying to avoid any confusion. Branding and positioning is always difficult," he admits. (The SDN term is used in the headline of the company's press release announcing IOC, it should be noted.)

"We have talked to our big customers … we are looking beyond what SDN is today for our customers and we will evolve our message," adds the CEO. "This is beyond SDN. This is about linking into the intelligence in the network and if you don't do that then you won't get the benefits. IOC has the elements of SDN but it's more than that," he insists.

What's next?
Merz says the launch of IOC is part of Coriant's strategy to provide operators with technology that helps them build and run more efficient networks.

"We see demand for more scalable optical networks: Operators need scalability from end to end to make their networks affordable." But it's not just about the challenges, notes the CEO, as there are new business opportunities to be grabbed from having more efficient networks. For example, operators can differentiate themselves if they have greater control and enhanced capabilities, such as very low latency, which is particularly important in mobile backhaul networks.

"Since OFC everything is going well and we are getting market traction. We have won a number of new deals but one customer decided to go with someone else, but that is normal business. We have no big issues with customers and the early issues regarding our private equity ownership is fading away," he says.

No big issues, maybe, but some healthy competitive pressure, it should be noted. (See On Your Toes, Coriant!)

Next in the pipeline are "some product portfolio enhancements. There are certain spots we can focus on and you will see expansion in the next six to nine months."

Will Coriant develop systems more for the edge of the network perhaps? "Our partnership with ADVA continues for the metro," says Merz.

And what of the assets acquired for about $19 million from the now defunct Sycamore Networks? (See Sycamore Prepares to Shut Down and Sycamore + NSN Optical = Coriant.)

"It's too early to comment on that," says the CEO.

There's plenty more to come from Coriant, it seems.

— Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

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