Fully operational research network gives Ciena R&D teams, research partners and customers a real-world environment to experience SDN and other advanced technologies

Ciena® Corporation (NASDAQ: CIEN), the network specialist, today announced that it is collaborating with CANARIE, Internet2 and StarLight to build the industry’s first network that unites all of the key packet, optical and software building blocks required to demonstrate and prove the benefits of software-defined, multi-layer wide area networks (WANs). The collaboration leverages Ciena’s OPn network approach to create the industry’s first fully operational end-to-end WAN that leverages OpenFlow across both the packet and transport layers, is supported by an open architecture carrier-scale controller and intrinsic multi-layer operation, and incorporates real-time analytics software applications.

The research network is designed to help spur innovation in the telecommunications industry by giving research and education (R&E) institutions and other network operators a platform to experiment with Software-Defined Networking (SDN) and other advanced technologies like agile photonics and real-time analytics software applications. Ciena believes that SDN is key to the next wave of value creation for service providers as it brings network programmability together with powerful new software intelligence capabilities to help monetize and optimize network assets in dynamic service environments. This new network platform will help speed SDN development for carriers and enable Ciena and its partners to explore and refine practical paths to SDN adoption and realization of its benefits.

Key Facts:

  • Purpose: Accelerate the formation of an SDN ecosystem for the WAN, and enable industry and private SDN technology research, development, and demonstrations.
  • Unique technology: The network is the first to broadly deploy multi-layer SDN technologies, providing OpenFlow-enabled SDN at both the optical transport layer as well as the packet networking layer. It also offers a modular carrier-scale software control system that leverages open source components, and features high-impact, real-time analytics software that improves optimization and monetization in dynamic service environments. With this platform, researchers can trial new technologies on a fully operational network without having to build a unique infrastructure for every use case.
  • Participants: The network includes hardware, software and bandwidth provided by Ciena and commercial and R&E community partners CANARIE, Internet2 and StarLight.
  • Topology: A multi-path infrastructure, featuring significant topology richness, initially connects Ciena’s corporate headquarters in Hanover, Maryland, USA with Ciena’s largest R&D center in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. International connectivity is achieved with Internet2 through the StarLight International/National Communications Exchange in Chicago and CANARIE, Canada's national optical fiber based advanced R&E network. This research network has the potential to cross connect data flows from Ciena R&D labs to virtually any National Research Network (NREN) or university research facility across the globe. This is the first time a network vendor, like Ciena, has been connected to an international span of NRENs.
  • Size: The network architecture currently spans 2500 km. The network footprint is expected to grow in 2014.
  • Ciena solutions included in the testbed:
    • OpenFlow v1.3-enabled 4Tb/s core switches, featuring 400G packet blades;
    • Transport – Layer 0 and Layer 1 OTN – network elements from Ciena’s industry-leading 6500 and 5400 converged packet-optical product families, configurable under extended OpenFlow protocol control;
    • A prototype open, modular and modifiable control software system that leverages open source components and is suitable for large-scale and geographically-distributed network control;
    • Multi-layer provisioning and control, driven by an abstracted northbound API;
    • Real-time analytics software designed to enable multi-layer resource optimization and dynamic network service pricing for revenue optimization.

Executive Comments:

  • “Going above and beyond a simple testbed, this live, fully functional network will drive continued innovation and demonstrate how a truly OPn network architecture can unleash the full power of SDN in the WAN. By building the industry’s first fully-featured, fully-open and fully-operational, end-to-end and multi-layer SDN-powered WAN, we can offer a real-world experience for customers and researchers to trial, refine and prove SDN concepts and technologies in both the network and the back office – without having to build a unique infrastructure for every use case.”

­   Steve Alexander, senior vice president and chief technology officer at Ciena

  • “SDN promises to change networking fundamentally for the better – lowering costs while expanding flexibility, programmability, and monetizability for service providers. However, it also represents a significant transformation in how networks are built and operated. Plotting the forward course from the status quo is not a simple matter, especially for service providers who operate large networks and operate many revenue-bearing services managed by complex back office environments. By working with R&E partners to create a real and largely fully-featured operating model of a “future” software-defined WAN, Ciena is providing a place and opportunity for relevant industry experiential learning. Such activities are critical to bringing SDN reality closer.”

­   Guru Parulkar, executive director at Open Networking Laboratory (ON.lab)

  • “Network operators today are enthusiastic about the cost savings and revenue potential of SDN. But many pieces and parts must fall into place for them to prove the reality of those benefits and put them into practice. Ciena and its partners are stepping up to deliver a workable critical mass of those components, and to prove, study, and evaluate the full potential of SDN in the service provider WAN environment. This is critical to the advancement of the industry as a whole, as the provider WAN environment is a much more complex one than most of the other environments targeted by SDN efforts and focus so far – like the data center.”

­   Michael Howard, co-founder and principal analyst, carrier networks at Infonetics Research

Supporting Resources:

About Ciena
Ciena is the network specialist. We collaborate with customers worldwide to unlock the strategic potential of their networks and fundamentally change the way they perform and compete. Ciena leverages its deep expertise in packet and optical networking and distributed software automation to deliver solutions in alignment with OPn, its approach for building open next-generation networks. We enable a high-scale, programmable infrastructure that can be controlled and adapted by network-level applications, and provide open interfaces to coordinate computing, storage and network resources in a unified, virtualized environment. For updates on Ciena news, follow us on Twitter @Ciena or on LinkedIn http://www.linkedin.com/company/ciena. Investors are encouraged to review the Investors section of our website at www.ciena.com/investors, where we routinely post press releases, SEC filings, recent news, financial results, and other announcements. From time to time we exclusively post material information to this website along with other disclosure channels that we use.

Note to Ciena InvestorsForward-looking statements. This press release contains certain forward-looking statements based on current expectations, forecasts and assumptions that involve risks and uncertainties. These statements are based on information available to the Company as of the date hereof; and Ciena's actual results could differ materially from those stated or implied, due to risks and uncertainties associated with its business, which include the risk factors disclosed in its Report on Form 10-Q, which Ciena filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on June 12, 2013. Forward-looking statements include statements regarding Ciena's expectations, beliefs, intentions or strategies regarding the future and can be identified by forward-looking words such as "anticipate," "believe," "could," "estimate," "expect," "intend," "may," "should," "will," and "would" or similar words. Ciena assumes no obligation to update the information included in this press release, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.