Gary Smith is Ciena’s President & CEO, having served as Ciena’s chief executive for fourteen years. Gary is a member of President Obama's National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee, and serves on the board of directors for Avaya and CommVault Systems. Previous posts in Gary’s Digital Revolution series:


We live in a world full of choices. It’s these choices that give us control of our destiny – of the outcomes in our lives – and allows us to take advantage of the best things available to enable the most rewarding experiences for ourselves and others.

We’re also all in the business of powering choices in the connections we help create between people, content, places and things. In today’s “on-demand” world, networks – and the way we go about building them – must be redefined to deliver on the full promise and potential of that connectivity. And we must consider how our ability and desire, as human beings, to have choices plays into that need.

It is this concept of choice – to choose the best-of-breed solution for your needs – that drives Ciena’s philosophy as we increasingly see network technology being consumed in a variety of different ways.

At the simplest level, traditional networks are largely bound by proprietary technology with very little latitude in design flexibility. Software and programmability are finally changing that. Network operators can decide for themselves what they deploy, how they deploy it, and how exactly they leverage their network for innovation and growth. The choice and the flexibility to enhance their own value is in their hands now more than ever.

So how has that been made possible? In a word: openness.

The implementation of this principle gives network operators the ability to customize network capabilities – for and by themselves – to meet the organization’s specific needs. This is a level of disruption we’ve not seen previously in the networking space. Just as smartphones created a new digital economy by opening up platforms with APIs and enabling the creation of apps that altered music, navigation and gaming, so too are software and infrastructure technologies bringing that agility to the network.

"It's the technologies that enable the greatest degree of choice for customers that will win"
- Gary Smith, President & CEO, Ciena

This is precisely the thinking behind OPn, which we introduced several years ago. As a guiding principle, OPn drives not only our innovation agenda, but more importantly how we solve the challenges of network transformation for our customers.

It’s the technologies that enable the greatest degree of choice for customers that will win. We’re committed to be the industry’s leading enabler of choice by developing and applying technologies that facilitate openness and choice. With design principles such as modularity and open APIs for programmability, we address the broadest range of consumption models. By way of a few examples, we’ve delivered open interfaces that make packet-optical WANs more programmable and interoperable, including open APIs and open line system capabilities. We offer open tools and environments like our Emulation Cloud and Blue Planet DevOps Toolkit to enable new services and simplify operations. And, we facilitate and participate in an open ecosystem across the industry amongst both large and small vendors to mix and match the best-of-breed technology for any given customer architecture.

Don’t get me wrong, the desired end game remains the same for network operators: lower costs, faster time-to-market and profitable service delivery to drive revenue. That concept is timeless. But, how they get there and at what scale is a new game and can only be played with openness.

I believe Ciena is the market’s leading enabler of choice when it comes to how different customers can consume network technology. And we can’t wait to tell you more in the coming months about how Ciena can guide you through a network transformation experience that is rooted in driving business outcomes.