Ciena: Enabling Network Innovations with SDN and NFV


Beyond being just the buzzwords for the industry – the real value of SDN and NFV is getting unlocked in the form of delivering long term profitability and network agility for the operators. Whether it is delivery of next generation-ready network modeling or deployment of Control Plane – Ciena is enabling a number of innovations for its customers.

On the sidelines of Mobile World Congress 2016 in Barcelona, Chip Redden, Senior Director, Global Consulting, Ciena speaks with Zia Askari from about the company’s current focus and how it is targeting future growth opportunities.

How can Ciena help service providers in today’s scenario?

We help service providers monetize on what they have. We can help create services for our customers, we can help train their sales people, we can also help in terms of creating the go to market strategy for the services. And we don’t charge for these services, we offer them free to our customers – we call them monetization services.


Brazil Olympics is going to be a great opportunity where all the content will be on HD – Some of the events will be streamed live. This is going to be a great opportunity. Ciena will be doing the backbone and some of the sub-marine connections.

How can operators handle such huge data situations in an agile way?

This is where we see huge buzz around SDN and NFV today. Software is getting very important for the operators today. One of the things that my group does is modeling – we have these modeling tools that we show to people – we plug in their values, their parameters, and we show them, if you continue on your present course, this is what’s going to happen to your revenues.

When it comes to service providers – their income is going down, while at the same time, their cost of maintaining the equipment is going up. So they are losing revenues today.

And in this scenario, everyone looks at SDN and NVF and say, this looks like a great way to save money. Virtualize services, deploy them faster, re-deploy them when it is needed. But there is a cost associated with all this. So what we show on our modeling charts – what are the costs – when do you reach a point when you break even and when do you reach a point when you start making money.

When you look at the services market today, physical services market has limitations however, when it is virtualized services – the market opportunity becomes really big. So this is where operators need to enter now.

What kind of trends do you see happening with the operators today?

SDN and NFV are big trends happening in this space today. We have a lot of SDN and NFV trails going on. And it is not only the big services providers but the medium ones and even the small service providers are today interested in SDN and NFV solutions.

This is creating big opportunity for small service providers and giving them great business agility.

What are the growth opportunities for Ciena today?

On the traditional side, it is optical. It is a huge opportunity as everybody wants more bandwidth – we are moving towards 4k content and moving forward there will be 5G available on the smartphones. So all this will create availability of huge amounts of data.


Security is another opportunity for us. We have an encryption module now. One of the big challenge is – how do you ensure that everything that leaves your premises and comes back – encrypted. This kind of encryption is a huge challenge for the enterprise and hence a huge growth opportunity for us.

Then there is SDN. There is huge amount of buzz in there. Carrier grade Ethernet and Ethernet services is another huge opportunity. As people move away from the old internet to the new form of internet which we think is basically going to be built on content and delivery of content.

Then there is this ability for a provider to really manage their network, take advantage of their network investments.

You can compress the network, utilize the excessive bandwidth. We can defrag the network for the operators and hence open up excess bandwidth which is not being used. With this, they can sell this bandwidth, or lease some of this bandwidth.


What are some of the innovations that we can expect from Ciena?

This is where NFV is becoming very important. Network modeling is a great innovation that is helping operators do more with their network investments. We have this ability to deliver ‘Network Modeling’ – being able to take advantage of the fact that an operator has got ‘bandwidth’ – even if it is only temporary.

 How does Ciena look at growth opportunities in India?

India is a big market for us. We see huge opportunity in this market. One of the challenges that we see in India comes from Fiber Cuts – in this scenario we have a product called “Control Plane” – which can drive a self healing network.

In this scenario, the network makes the optimal decision to reroute the traffic for you. So if you have a fiber cut or multiple fiber cuts – we are going to keep the network running for you. It is deployed with a number of big service providers in India.

When the Tsunami hit Japan, five years ago – the only network that did not go down was Ciena network.