Cisco, Cyan Think Beyond the Box

Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and Cyan Optics Inc. are each preparing network management software that can control multiple vendors' equipment, a development that could be particularly important in Ethernet services.

A multi-vendor control plane would make it easier for a carrier to provision services across the entire network. Soapstone -- whose technology is now owned by Extreme Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: EXTR) -- was working on the problem, and software company Tail-f Systems likewise seems to have the pieces to make it happen. (See Ethernet Management Looms and Triggering a New Control Plane.)

What's difficult, though, is getting the cooperation of other vendors, since the software would have to talk to their equipment in the right way. Cyan now tells Light Reading it's getting that cooperation from some Ethernet equipment vendors.

"We're going through the integration of third-party products right now. We'll have announcements early next year about third-party integration," says Frank Wiener, the company's vice president of marketing and business development.

Cyan's management software, CyMS, looks across multiple layers of the network, presenting them in a snazzy 3D format. But most networks are using non-Cyan equipment, obviously, because Cyan is so new. So, carriers -- those outside the US, in particular -- have pushed the startup to make its software multi-vendor, Wiener says. (See Cyan Plays God With Optical.)

CyMS "has tremendous value, but they say it has to manage more than our hardware," he tells Light Reading.

Cisco, meanwhile, says it's already got a way to support a multi-vendor control plane. It's possible with the company's new CPT line of packet-optical transport systems (P-OTS) and its new management software called Prime, short for Premier Integrated Management Experience. (See Cisco (Finally) Adds P-OTS.)

"The management system is designed to include third-party objects, simply because we do understand service providers have multi-vendor environments," says Mike Capuano, Cisco's director of marketing. But it does require some customization before Prime can be used for multi-vendor management.

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 4:17:32 PM
re: Cisco, Cyan Think Beyond the Box

It's interesting to see a multivendor control plane finally starting to emerge. (Or maybe the vendors just got tired of me asking about it.)

As I've said, this isn't the most glamorous part of network equipment, and you can't keep score as easily as you can with 10/40/100-Gig, but I think it's going to be an important issue.  Especially in the case of Ethernet services, where so much groundwork is being laid, it makes sense for management systems to start bridging multiple vendors' gear.

yarn 12/5/2012 | 4:17:30 PM
re: Cisco, Cyan Think Beyond the Box

It would also pave the way for acquisitions to come, but there's of course the aspect that a multi-vendor integration option always helps to lower entry barriers.

Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 4:17:30 PM
re: Cisco, Cyan Think Beyond the Box

That could be. Excellent point.

Would that be what prodded Cisco to do this, though?  The CPT is new, and two things I can think of that it would be talking to would be the 15454 and Cisco's carrier Ethernet gear (the ME series among others).  Not sure I see a wide range of acquisitions there, but it's plausible that the '454 and MEs are different enough animals to require a "multivendor" control plane.

yarn 12/5/2012 | 4:17:30 PM
re: Cisco, Cyan Think Beyond the Box

I think the multi-vendor control plane is interesting for Cisco to better manage their own gear. Since they have such a rich inheritance of different makes and models as a result of their acquisition strategy, they effectively have a multi-vendor integration issue with their own portfolio.

transmission_design 12/5/2012 | 4:17:29 PM
re: Cisco, Cyan Think Beyond the Box

This is something we have been struggling with on a large RAN share project.  We are holding talks with a fair few big box vendors and some start up types with regard to OSS/BSS tools for OAM and provisioning.   

It is an interesting challenge for us operators and a pretty big leap for the vendors.  There are excellent NMS tools out there from the various vendors, but quite unsatisfactory Ethernet (CE/MPLS-TP(eventually:)) monitoring accross multi vendor environments.  Too add to this, we will be eventually dual vendor OTN, dual vendor Ethernet and multivendor MPLS/IP.  Fun times ahead with data centres full off NMS servers and provisioning / billing systems. 

The market seems to be moving beyond slideware in terms of multivendor OSS though, so we expect the first tools quite soon and do have some demo's lined up.

Simplyfying networks is never simple and the tools are always slightly behind the initial deployments, but things should be looking up in the OTN/Ethernet/MPLS domain as standards are creeping through the working groups. 



Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 4:17:17 PM
re: Cisco, Cyan Think Beyond the Box

Thanks, t_d ... very interesting, and it sounds like there really is progress being made (not to mention a real need, in your case especially, for multivendor tools). Best of luck with it -- and if you'd ever like to update us on how it's going, I'm at: [email protected]

transmission_design 12/5/2012 | 4:17:16 PM
re: Cisco, Cyan Think Beyond the Box

Hi Craig,

If you are in London on the 9th for the mobile backhaul lightreading event, perhaps we can grab a coffee


Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 4:17:15 PM
re: Cisco, Cyan Think Beyond the Box

I'd love to, but alas, I won't be at the mobile backhaul event in London on the 9th (but thanks for the plug!).  Another time, hopefully.

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