Ciena spun off its Blue Planet portfolio into its own independent division that will focus on intelligent automation.
The company first announced these plans back in December during its fourth quarter 2018 earnings call with investors. During the call, Ciena President and CEO Gary Smith said that “the formation enhances our ability to support a range of consumption models by allowing the software business to operate independently of our hardware business where it makes sense,” according to a Seeking Alpha transcript of the call.
Rick Hamilton, who has served as the senior vice president of Blue Planet since October 2016, said in an email to SDxCentral that the ability to sell Ciena and Blue Planet to both IT and network operators was another reason for the move. “With a bit of independence we can better meet the needs of our customers. If our customer needs to buy our automation and OSS platform solutions but not buy our hardware platform, that’s fine,” he wrote, “We think this fits nicely with the changing landscape of how the market is moving toward more collaboration between IT and network operations.”
Blue Planet first became a part of Ciena’s portfolio in 2015, when it purchased Cyan. At that time, Ciena combined its own SDN and automation services with the acquired technology to form the Blue Planet software unit. Operating now as an independent entity, Blue Planet will continue to be led by Hamilton.
Ciena’s Blue Planet portfolio consists of multiple products and capabilities: multi-domain service orchestration (MDSO), NFV orchestration, analytics, a network health predictor, route optimization and assurance, virtual WAN, and SDN-based domain control for Ciena packet and optical networks.
The unit has undergone quite a bit of change since 2015. This includes last year’s purchases of Packet Design and DonRiver to bolster its offerings.
In May 2018, it purchased Packet Design to extend Blue Planet’s software intelligent automation capabilities beyond Layers 0 to 2. Packet Design brought network performance management (NPM) software focused on Layer 3 network optimization, topology, and route analytics.
Ciena bought DonRiver last September and integrated the technology into Blue Planet to enable unified OSS inventory federation. At the center of DonRiver’s service inventory management technology is a federated inventory solution that creates a unified inventory to improve an organization’s business process definition and execution.
Now, as an independent division, Blue Planet can refocus and grow into new areas.
Hamilton said that now it has a focused investment plan, can dedicate its resources to research and development, has its own go-to-market process, and a capability roadmap for its network automation software and extending into new service offerings and adjacent markets. “As a division, Blue Planet can also operate with a services-led delivery model to connect with IT buyers in our customer organizations who seek solutions-focused dialogue and who have different expectations around purchasing models, commercial agreements (e.g., subscription), etc.”
According to a blog post written by Hamilton, spinning off Blue Planet is part of a bigger strategy to hone in on customers’ moves to “intelligent software-based network automation.” He wrote that, “An automation approach is needed that brings IT and network together, seamlessly aligning these functions across the providers’ critical business processes.”
He continued that this approach is rooted in Blue Planet’s holistic approach to closed-loop automation. This approach leverages analytics, multi-domain orchestration, federated inventory management, and route optimization and assurance. Hamilton added that this “allows service providers to leverage a dynamic view of network and service resources to derive business insights that shape network control policies and inform IT systems with real-time information.”
In its Q4 2018 earnings call, Ciena said the Blue Planet division would target $50 million to $60 million in annual revenue in fiscal 2019, growing to $100 million to $120 million in annual revenue in 2021.