Leading Lights 2016 Finalists: Best New Product (Telecom)

Twelve companies, including ADVA, Ciena, Cisco and Nokia, made the shortlist for this year's best telecom product award.

May 22, 2016

11 Min Read
Leading Lights 2016 Finalists: Best New Product (Telecom)

Virtualization might be the flavor of the decade but the shortlist for Best New Product (Telecom) in this year's Leading Lights awards shows there's still plenty of life left in the components and optical hardware markets.

There were almost 40 entries in this category, many of a very high standard, making it very hard to create a shortlist: As a result, the shortlist is quite long, with 12 companies making the cut. A snapshot of each shortlisted product can be found below.

The winners in all categories are to be announced at the Leading Lights Awards dinner on Monday, May 23, at the Hotel Ella in Austin, Texas. For more details about that, see this Leading Lights 2016 Awards page. The following day, the Big Communications Event 2016 opens its doors for two days of networking, learning and fun.

To find out which companies were shortlisted in all 26 Leading Lights categories, see Leading Lights 2016: The Finalists.

In alphabetical order, here are this year's shortlisted entries in the Best New Product (Telecom) category:

ADVA Optical Networking -- Ensemble Connector
The Ensemble Connector was inherited by ADVA when it acquired Overture Networks earlier this year and has become an increasingly popular choice as a virtualized infrastructure element for NFV Proofs of Concept as well as already being commercially deployed by Masergy and DartPoints. Ensemble Connector is ADVA's commercial alternative to Open vSwitch (OVS) as the VNF-hosting software platform in a NFV deployment, offering greater scalability and lower latency than the open source alternative. Importantly, Ensemble Connector is not tied to any proprietary hardware or software solutions, meeting the open, multivendor needs of network operators.

Affirmed Networks -- Affirmed Service Automation Platform (ASAP)
With its Affirmed Service Automation Platform (ASAP), this disruptive startup is targeting a very specific need of network operators – to make it much easier and cheaper to introduce new services in legacy as well as hybrid and virtualized networks. ASAP, states the Affirmed team, "helps in provisioning, de-provisioning, or obtaining the information for a service, using a custom-defined procedure called a Recipe," a procedure built around two tools, the vBuilder that creates a service and the vTransactor that orchestrates it, for which no service-specific coding or additional professional services assistance is needed as everything is enabled via a GUI.

By enabling network operations teams to introduce and manage services in such a simplified way, Affirmed is tapping into the core needs of modern communications service providers.

Amdocs -- Amdocs CES 10
With release 10 of its CES portfolio platform, Amdocs is tapping into one of the hottest trends in the industry – service provider digital transformation. Amdocs has designed CES 10 to enable CSPs to diversify their business opportunities across multiple digital channels, engage customers with personalized experiences and, using analytics functions, make business and operational decisions based on real-world data about their networks, services and customers.

As with all major back office systems these days, CES 10 is a hosted, cloud-enabled software system that also taps into the SDN and NFV needs of CSPs by offering them the opportunity to design, test and launch virtualized and hybrid services in weeks using the Service Design and Create tool embedded in CES 10, which also includes tools to onboard enterprise and vendor partners from the IoT world.

Amdocs has identified the key operational and business demands of today's CSPs and addressed them in CES 10.

Ciena -- Waveserver
Waveserver is Ciena's dedicated data center interconnect (DCI) platform, a stripped-down system based on the vendor's WaveLogic Extreme chipset, designed specifically for the heavy lifting needed between data centers. Initially launched in May 2015, the system was upgraded to support long-haul DCI in September last year.

Of particular note is the Waveserver's Emulation Cloud capability, a "prototyping environment" that allows customers, potential customers and even third-party application developers access to an emulated version of a Waveserver unit through a browser on their desktops.

Ciena is already recording revenues from the Waveserver system and while competition is tough from other dedicated DCI boxes and emerging specialist DCI modules, Ciena looks set to capitalize on demand for this platform from its established customer base that now also includes major Web services firms.

Cisco -- Network Convergence System 5508 (NCS 5508)
In a nutshell, Cisco's NCS 5508 is a physical router for the modern age, offering high density, low power consumption, intelligent connectivity to multiple support systems and interfaces, and designed to be implemented in programmable, cloud-friendly networks.

In addition to its density – Cisco claims the NCS 5508 offers "the highest density platform of routed 100-GE ports on the market" – the router offers a range of software-based capabilities designed for modern networks, including the automation of day-to-day operational procedures using YANG data models and the exposure of near real-time data that can be used by network optimization tools.

ECI Telecom -- Apollo OPT 9900 Series
ECI's Apollo OPT 9900 series, which consists of high capacity, multi-layer switching platforms, has been designed to offer a dense, energy-efficient, hybrid OTN/packet switch for core networks and submarine cable landing stations and comes in two versions – a 16 Tbit/s capacity platform and a 5.6 Tbit/s system.

In addition to its high density and optimized power consumption, the Apollo OPT 9900 series offers alien wavelength support, SDN control, fast and flexible provisioning capabilities to meet customer requests and changes in traffic demands and tools (such as rate adaptive coherent transmission, flexible spectrum, layer 2 statistical multiplexing, multilayer optimization) designed to maximize capacity utilization. That's the type of feature set that network operators need if they're to develop profitable business strategies for the coming years.

Next page: Inphi, Lumentum, Netronome, Nokia, RIFT.io and Wind River

Inphi -- ColorZ
Inphi dropped something of a data center interconnect (DCI) bombshell when it unveiled ColorZ, its Silicon Photonics 100G PAM4 platform solution in QSFP28 form factor for DCI routes of 80km or less. Inphi's proposition is that, by using advanced Pulse Amplitude Modulation (PAM4) signaling, ColorZ can enable up to 4Tbit/s of bandwidth over a single fiber and "allow multiple data centers located up to 80km from each other to be connected and act like a single data center." A significant part of the ColorZ proposition is that the deployment of this product would call into question the need for dedicated DCI systems in metro deployments within 80km distances. It wasn't just the proposition that caused the bombshell but he fact that Inphi has a ready-made partner and customer for the product in the form of Microsoft, one of the world's biggest data center operators. A smart move.

Lumentum Holdings -- Optical whiteboxes for SDN
Lumentum has seized on the demand for disaggregated networking elements by launching a modular optical system, comprising a Terminal Amplifier, Line Amplifier and ROADM, that can be controlled by an SDN orchestrator. This approach, believes the company, "enables system integrators to build a transport layer controlled by an SDN Orchestrator through the Northbound Netconf/Yang interfaces."

This new approach will appeal to the needs of network operators seeking to construct multivendor, next generation networks. The modules "have been purpose built to operate with any third party SDN controller/orchestrator for the rapidly evolving space of programmable optical networks," notes Lumentum. "The open APIs built into the platform makes these sub-system products non-vendor specific and enables the construction of a transport layer that is truly disaggregated. We see these products as the building blocks for system integrators in the growing SDN space."

This is optical hardware for the programmable networking world.

Netronome Systems -- Agilio Server Networking Platform
With its Agilio Server Networking Platform, Netronome has targeted one of the key pain points of network and data center operators --- IT system performance and scalability. In essence, the Agilio system, which includes 10GigE and 40GigE intelligent server adapters, "offloads critical server-based networking functions such as network virtualization with overlay tunnels, distributed security with micro-segmentation, load balancing, and telemetry," according to the vendor. And by working with open-source server datapath software such as open vSwitch, Contrail vRouter, Linux IP Tables and Conntrack, the Agilio system is easily integrated into existing cloud architectures.

The result is that the Agilio Server Networking Platform can make Open vSwitch (OVS) deployments, which struggle with packet processing demands, far more efficient: According to Netronome, its system can "reclaim up to 80% of the server CPU resources previously dedicated to OVS, while at the same time delivering five times or more of the packet data throughput to more NFV and IT Cloud applications."

That's a proposition that'll be music to the ears of every operators seeking to maximize the efficiency of their cloud architectures.

Nokia -- 500G Muxponder card for the Nokia 1830 PSS product portfolio
Having stored up its optical advances for almost a year, Nokia unleashed a package of developments earlier this year that included the 500G Muxponder card that fits into its 1830 PSS (Photonic Service Switch) as well as the Photonic Service Engine version 2 (PSE-2) 500Gbit/s programmable chipset that's incorporated into that line card.

The card boasts up to five 100GE clients, throughput from 50Gbit/s to 500Gbit/s and is designed for deployment in metro, long-haul and even submarine networks. Nokia believes it has a unique proposition with this particular product because of its range, flexibility (400Gbit/s wavelengths, 500Gbit/s superchannels, viable 200Gbit/s capacity in long-haul networks, extended 100Gbit/s reach) and programmability. It's a product that attracted positive feedback from industry analysts and operators, scores of which have already placed orders, according to the vendor.

RIFT.io Inc. -- RIFT.ware
RIFT.ware is an open source NFV platform around which an ecosystem virtual network function (VNF) developers is being built. According to the RIFT.io team, it delivers "model-driven, ETSI-compliant NFV MANO capabilities and a framework for building highly scalable, distributed VNFs and communications applications. RIFT.ware empowers enterprises to successfully deploy virtualized network services on private and hybrid cloud, and accelerate service providers' efforts to deploy NFV-enabled virtualized networks."

Importantly, RIFT.ware has been developed to deliver carrier-class software robustness and the agility of the cloud to help service providers and enterprises make the transition to virtualization in a manner more akin to the Web services giants such as Google and Facebook, rather than via traditional telco processes and operational models.

An open platform is key to this: As the RIFT.io team states, "RIFT.ware's multi-language, plug-in architecture with well-defined industry standard interfaces offers integration with any third-party orchestration platform, analytics tool, cloud management system, SDN platform and network function... [this] directly addresses the issue of fragmentation of NFV technology, management and automation approaches that were hindering the development of new VNFs and thereby limiting choice for carriers and enterprises."

The New IP environment needs disruptive yet carrier-class models and systems and this fits the bill.

Wind River -- Titanium Server CPE
Wind River developed the Titanium Server CPE with one very important goal in mind – to help network operators accelerate the deployment of initial virtual network functions (VNFs) by providing a highly efficient and scalable platform for next generation customer premises equipment. Wind River believes it can help operators save on capex by providing in a two-server configuration that delivers the kind of carrier-grade functionality provided by four or five servers in alternative solutions.

The Titanium Server CPE has been developed in conjunction with a range of partners from Wind River's Titanium Cloud ecosystem and plays to the needs of service providers seeking to capitalize on the business opportunities that virtualized enterprise applications can offer.

— Ray Le Maistre, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

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