Ciena is starting to get more specific about its software-defined networking (SDN) plans, announcing an SDN controller for the WAN, based on the OpenDaylight Project‘s framework, and a couple of applications. Collectively, they form a software portfolio called Agility.
While details of Ciena’s SDN plan have been a little scarce, the overall strategy, built around an architecture called OPn, has been pretty obvious. Being a vendor to carriers, Ciena’s SDN focus is on the WAN. Executives have also been talking about unifying control and management for the packet and optical layers — because Ciena owns gear for optical transport and for Layer 2.
Consider the SDN controller announced today to be a first version. Ciena was already working on an OpenDaylight-based controller covering Layers 0 through 2, and the controller announced today is the culmination of that work. But meanwhile, Ciena and Ericsson have become partners and are developing a Layer 0-3 controller; today’s controller will end up being merged with that effort, says Tom Mock, Ciena’s senior vice president of strategic planning.
The Layer 3 technology comes from Ericsson’s 2007 acquisition of Redback Networks, then a router contender trying to stand up to Cisco and Juniper. Redback has never made much leeway in the router market, but the technology is certainly there to help build an SDN controller.
The SDN applications Ciena is rolling out today are:
- Navigate — providing multilayer path computation.
- Protect — centralized multilayer restoration (restoration being a big, big deal in telecom networks).
- Optimize — a network defrag application, in a sense. It frees constrained capacity. And yeah, it’s multilayer.
Separately, Ciena is fleshing out its V-WAN scheduling platform for the carrier network. V-WAN came out to market at the end of 2013 after being shown to customers in the summer. That first version did basic orchestration between data centers; today’s announcement adds features including real-time performance data and the ability to work with other controllers to set up network connections.
Another way to think about that last part is that carriers could construct a connectivity map that could be brought into being for a period of time, Mock says.
The V-WAN extensions are available now and are being used by Equinix, part of a deployment the companies announced at the end of June. Among other things, Equinix is using V-WAN to connect to other companies’ cloud services, such as Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services.
The SDN controller and applications are due to come out later this year.