Ciena added a handful of new features to its Packet Networking product that tap its service aware operating system (SAOS) to boost IP capabilities and Layer 3 features from its recently closed acquisition of Packet Design. However, Brian Lavallée, senior director of solutions marketing at Ciena, explained that the update is really about streamlining the platform to reduce complexity.
The SOAS integration provides for a common set of Ethernet features designed to increase operational efficiency from edge to core. Lavallée noted that specifically for the Packet Networking product this provides a targeted “adaptive IP” approach that only uses what is needed to support specific applications.
“This is about right-sizing the solution for our customers,” Lavallée said. “We are not trying to add more IP protocols, just to provide the IP protocols for targeted applications. We really want to reduce complexity of the network.”
Lavallée noted that network complexity has been scaling along with capacity. “Now it’s unwieldy. We need to reduce that complexity so that our customers can scale in a more cost effective manner,” he said.
The platform uses an open API approach that can eventually allow for centralized management through something like Ciena’s Blue Planet platform. Or, eventually Ciena would be looking to open the software up so it can work in a white box environment.
“The reality is that the typical operator wants a diverse supply chain,” Lavallée said. “Our whole architecture is based on exactly that. Ideally our customers would buy Blue Planet to manage everyone, but the entire architecture is open.”
The first products to include these new capabilities will be Ciena’s 5162 and 5170 Service Aggregation Platforms. They will initially support Layer 3 VPN business services, though more are planned.
Packet Design Integration
That Layer 3 support is something new for Ciena and comes from its recent acquisition of Packet Design. Ciena acquired Packet Design for an undisclosed amount in May. The Austin, Texas-based company was founded by former Cisco executives in 2003, and was acquired by private equity firm Lone Rock in 2013.
Packet Design provides network performance management software focused on Layer 3 network optimization, topology, and route analytics. Those efforts initially attracted telecommunication operators. Packet last year launched an SDN-based application to automate service path computation across a service provider’s networks.
Lavallée noted that prior to the Packet Design deal Ciena was limited to accessing Layer 0, which is the physical layer, to Layer 2, which is the data link layer of the stack. It now offers end-to-end IP network designs, operations, and management from Layer 0 to Layer 3, which is the IP layer.
Ciena is taking this angle from a position of strength in the optical networking space. A recent IHS Markit report listed Ciena alongside Cisco, Huawei, and Nokia as leaders in the market.
The report broke down market leadership into two categories: market presence, which was defined as a vendor’s position in the market, including size, brand recognition, reputation, and financials; and market momentum, which was defined as a vendor’s potential, including growth, reputation for innovation, and development of next generation technologies. Ciena ranked No. 1 in market momentum and No. 2 in market presence.