One of my annual New Year traditions is to take a look back at the big Ciena news from the past year (here’s my 2020 in review). From a broad worldwide perspective, 2021 (unfortunately) felt a lot like 2020 with canceled industry conferences, too many Zoom calls, and a global supply chain problem that affected everything from toys to trucking, but seemed to hit the tech industry particularly hard.

But 2021 was not just a 2020 repeat, there were new hot topics and new innovations this last year that you can see reflected in some of the biggest Ciena news and announcements from 2021:

Massive 800G pipes lead to a rise in 400GbE services

A year ago, we finished off 2020 boasting about Ciena’s substantial head-start with 800G technology via our WaveLogic 5 Extreme chipset. That didn’t stop in 2021, with another long line of new 800G customers like Segra in the US, Omantel, CityFibre in the UK, Altibox in Europe, LTV in India, and Lightpath. In all, Ciena now counts 140 customers globally for WaveLogic 5 Extreme, with nearly 25,000 modems shipped to date.

But something that was new in 2021 was the increasing prominence of 400GbE and 400G wavelength services as a primary driver for these bigger pipes. Service providers like Deutsche Telekom Global Carrier, Colt, Zayo, Bell Canada, Vogel Telecom in Brazil, and T-Mobile Polska all announced Ciena WaveLogic 5 deployments in 2021 with 400G services in mind.

Submarine capacity follows suit

As always, the quest to squeeze more capacity out of existing fiber infrastructure finds its greatest need with submarine cable networks. Ciena’s GeoMesh Extreme, powered by WaveLogic 5 Extreme coherent technology, finds a natural home here by significantly lengthening the spans that 200G, 400G, and 600G wavelengths can traverse.

This led to a string of submarine announcements and deployments in 2021 for Ciena’s GeoMesh Extreme, including Southern Cross with its new NEXT cable connecting Australasia to the US West Coast, Aqua Comms' Trans-Atlantic cable, Telecom Egypt’s MENA cable, and Crosslake Fibre’s new CrossChannel submarine network across the English Channel.

These submarine deployments also made for some great photo opportunities during the cable landing ceremonies. Below is a recent Southern Cross landing ceremony in Sydney, Australia, for their new NEXT cable.

Southern Cross LinkedIn post

Ciena acquires Vyatta routing and switching technology from AT&T

In September, Ciena entered into an agreement with AT&T to acquire its Vyatta virtual routing and switching technology and resources. While ongoing support of the Vyatta routing platform in AT&T’s wireless network was part of the agreement, the acquisition also reflects Ciena’s continued investment in Routing and Switching and the growing market opportunity to transform the edge, including 5G networks and cloud environments.

“The addition of the Vyatta talent and assets to our Routing and Switching business will extend Ciena’s success in helping customers create virtualized networks and deploy new features faster and cost-effectively across 5G, enterprise and cloud use cases,” said Scott McFeely, Senior Vice President, Global Products and Services at Ciena, in the acquisition press release.

Just recently a group of Ciena employees in San Jose got together to welcome some of the Vyatta team to the Ciena family.

Vyatta acquisition LinkedIn post

Samsung and Ciena Join Forces to Offer 5G Network Solutions

In October, Ciena and Samsung jointly announced an agreement to deliver 5G network solutions to the market. The agreement enables Samsung to couple Ciena’s converged 4G/5G xHaul solutions with its own 5G solutions to support the next generation of high-bandwidth applications and services driven by expanding 5G networks.

The combined offer comprises an end-to-end solution set including Ciena’s xHaul Routing and Switching portfolio and next-generation MCP domain controller, and Samsung’s Core and RAN portfolio, including virtualized RAN (vRAN) solutions, baseband units, and 5G New Radios (NR). The resulting pre-validated solution set is available now, and you’re sure to hear more about this topic in 2022.

Blue Planet keeps up the customer momentum

Blue Planet customers chartIn last year’s wrap-up, I highlighted the growing momentum for our Blue Planet intelligent automation software suite, with public customer announcements and deployments at major network operators like BTDISHEtisalatTelefonica DeutschlandWindstreamTelstraElectronet, and Crown Castle.

2021 served to reinforce this momentum, as topics like service lifecycle automation, federated network inventory, and network as a service (NaaS) came front and center. New Blue Planet public customers added in 2021 included Vodafone and Neos Networks.

Looking ahead to 2022

But enough about 2021, let’s start looking forward to the year ahead. A few weeks ago, I was able to talk live with several of our technology executives at Ciena to get their thoughts on the biggest topics from 2021, as well as where they thought the industry was headed in 2022. The panel included Ciena Chief Technical Officer (CTO) Steve Alexander, EMEA & APJ CTO Jürgen Hatheier, and CIO Craig Williams.

We cover topics like Edge Cloud, Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites, the increasing cooperation between Internet Content Providers (ICPs) and Communications Service providers (CSPs), 5G, and even get into a discussion on the Metaverse. You can hear our conversation in the podcast below.