Frank Miller recently joined our EMEA team as Chief Technology Officer (CTO) for the region. Frank came to Ciena from CenturyLink, where he was Chief Architect and VP of Access and responsible for the creation and execution of the Programmable Services Backbone (PSB) software-controlled network, where Ciena’s Blue Planet played a key role.
With more than 25 years’ experience in industry, Frank brings extensive knowledge of network transformation migrations to a software-controlled and more adaptive network. We sat down with Frank to find out more about him – you’ll find the Q&A below.
CK: What are the most important dynamics that network providers in EMEA, and elsewhere, face today?
FM: We are at a special time in the industry. We are combining the maturity of software control, automation, analytics, machine learning and programmable infrastructure, and these form the basis of Ciena’s “Adaptive Networks” vision. The confluence of all of this allows us to now deliver “intent” to the network-of-the-future to protect the customer experience, to provide services on-demand and to drive more value from network investment.
Ciena will continue to advance the delivery of the software realm. This will provide control all the way down to the physical layer of the network at Layer 0 and will enable our customers to manage their entire network end-to-end – not just based on automation, but based on intent.
CK: What did you learn at Mobile World Congress this year about how network providers will evolve toward advanced 4G and eventually 5G?
FM: A key opportunity for 5G is to leverage the drive toward transformation of the next-generation network infrastructure to packetization, including fronthaul, midhaul and backhaul. There is a need for fiber at all points along this pathway, and this creates excellent opportunities for Ciena.
At the same time, we are experiencing “cloudification,” where network operators are virtualizing and abstracting network resources. As noted above, there is tremendous opportunity for the intent-driven network to enable mobile resources to adapt on-demand. The software-defined network will reach out to the radio realm, enabling flexibility and agility like never before.
The 5G infrastructure, when packetized and cloudified, can be part of a single universal access strategy for our customers that will deliver both visibility and control from the same equipment. That’s critical. This universal access strategy will deliver not only 5G radio capacity over fixed assets, but will also deliver other, more traditional fixed services for businesses and consumers. We are heading into a very exciting time.
CK: You come from the service provider realm. What is the best advice you can bring to a vendor supporting the network operator’s business?
FM: Become a partner. See the world from the customer’s point of view and create a long-term, strategic relationship that enables their success. When Ciena succeeds at doing that, we become a key partner that delivers value beyond just a box in the customer’s network.
To succeed with the customer in that way, it’s important to think about solutions. We have to think about how our customer will create new sources of innovation and revenue. We have to think about the service provider’s end consumer and their customer experience. Critical for us is to take joint ownership of the customer’s success and use that as our baseline for the relationship.
CK: We hear cautious optimism from industry analysts that the EMEA optical transport market might see mild growth in 2018 after some tough years behind us. What will drive that growth?
FM: Growth will come from delivery of the complete package of optical, packet and network cloudification to drive quick delivery of services for network operators while reducing their operational expense. Key here is that Ciena not only has the solid foundation of optical leadership with our 400G-capable portfolio, but we also provide seamless integration into packet with complete control and end-to-end automation from the physical layer to service delivery.
We are a key partner with our customers to craft strong solutions for the service provider with a focus on value creation. We’re looking forward to a good year in 2018, as we’re seeing potential growth in access, enterprise B2B markets and a key focus on infrastructure investment in optical solutions. Ciena is in the right place at the right time, we have a strong leadership position as we continue to strengthen our key partnerships.
CK: What do you do in your spare time?
FM: I really enjoy forming partnerships with our customers and their customers. The blend of bringing the strategic vision of technology to value creation for our customer … and their customer … that is what puts the kick in my step and the smile on my face when I wake up. I do, though, enjoy travel, long distance running, snowboarding, meeting new people and experiencing new cultures.
Frank, thank you. It was nice to get to know you a bit more. For those of you who would like to learn more, Frank will be attending MPLS in Paris from April 10-13. We are happy to schedule a briefing at MPLS or schedule a phone briefing with you. Please get in touch.
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