Greg Friesen is responsible for the development and introduction of Ciena’s converged packet optical solutions including the 6500, Reconfigurable Line System, and Waveserver® products.

Image to promote webinar - are pluggable coherent modems ready for primte time?With Ciena’s presence in so many of the largest networks around the world, we are often asked about network evolution and to provide insights into what’s next.  In fact, a lot of my time with customers over the past year has been spent discussing this topic. Keeping in mind that these customers include service, cloud and content providers, cable operators, enterprises and government, our team has a good understanding of the diverse business challenges network providers are facing as well as their requirements for successful transformation. We use these insights to drive strategic investments and solution offerings, and one of the reasons that Ciena is recognized as the leading supplier in reliable, high performance coherent optical solutions is because of our proven track record of delivering the right solutions to the market at the right time.

For example, over the past 25 years, we have delivered the 1st metro and long haul DWDM system, 1st converged packet optical platform, 1st OTN switch, and of course, 1st coherent solutions at 40G, 100G, 400G, and most recently, 800G. We also see faster early adoption with each new generation of the technology, which speaks to both the market need and appropriate timing.

So, what is next?  WaveLogic 5 Nano 100G-400G coherent solutions, which include the coherent modems in pluggable form factors as well as all the other elements required for real-world deployments.

Market and customer requirements

Taking a moment to reflect on the optical industry, we are seeing an unprecedented number of innovations across coherent optics, photonic line systems and SDN applications alike. As our service, content and cable provider customers are evolving and upgrading their networks, they are now faced with multiple, viable, new coherent optical technology and architecture choices to select from.

Singling out coherent optics, the industry is moving towards two distinct design evolution paths: performance and footprint-optimized solutions. Performance-optimized coherent optics allow for greater capacity per wavelength, longest unregenerated distance and maximum fiber capacity.  State-of-the art performance optimized solutions also provide efficient transport of 400GbE connectivity across any distance, allowing for an elegant evolution to 400G router infrastructure. This technology is well suited for high capacity, high traffic growth network applications where spectral efficiency is a key requirement.

At the same time, electro-optic miniaturization is enabling the development of footprint-optimized coherent optical solutions. Footprint-optimized coherent pluggable optics extend the capacity and photonic line simplification benefits of coherent technology to new access applications, offer pay-as-you-grow modularity and reduced power/area benefits.  Coherent pluggables also open the door to using converged IP/optical platforms instead of separate transport and packet layers, resulting in new network architectures.

So, what is the right architecture that should be adopted for modernizing networks moving forward? Contrary to some opinions, there is no one right solution for all applications.  In fact, as I have seen in my customer engagements, multiple options can be viable for the same application, and the right solution will depend on network characteristics, traffic requirements and operational priorities. Considerations include such factors as:

  • What are the fiber characteristics?
  • What type of photonic line system exists? How many and what type of ROADMs? What is the photonic channel plan?
  • What client connectivity options are needed?
  • What are the capacity requirements? What is the expected traffic growth rate?
  • How many restoration paths are needed?
  • Is additional fiber readily available?
  • Are you looking for a fully disaggregated or turnkey solution?


Insight into Ciena strategy and investments

What is Ciena’s strategy? We continue to evolve our solution offerings to power networks that can readily adapt to change and successfully support our customers’ evolving business requirements. We are increasing our vertical integration, and making the significant, requisite technology investments to address the wide range of network provider requirements for leading edge and deployable coherent packet optical solutions.

Earlier this year, Ciena delivered WaveLogic 5 Extreme, the industry’s first programmable 200G-800G solution to market on both the 6500 and Waveserver 5 platforms.  The strong early adoption and ramp of WaveLogic 5 Extreme is largely due to our holistic solution offering, which includes transceivers optimized for both terrestrial and subsea applications, support for versatile client interface options such as 100GbE, OTU4 and 400GbE, as well as support over a range of photonic line systems and operational models.  As we move forward, we will continue to enhance our WaveLogic 5 Extreme offering adding OTN switching, encryption, L-band, support for new bauds, new SDN applications, and more.

And we’re not stopping there, as our customers’ and network applications’ needs are diverse. In the next few months, we will start rolling out our WaveLogic 5 Nano family of footprint-optimized 400G coherent solutions, again, with the complete, integrated solution our customers expect for widescale deployment. The solutions are comprised of 100-400G pluggable coherent optics that are offered across our optical and packet networking platforms as well as in stand-alone modules, optimized photonic line systems, link engineering and network design tools, multi-layer operations and optimization with MCP domain controller and Liquid Spectrum analytic apps.


Customers can select some or all these elements as needed to address their networking needs, from turnkey to fully disaggregated and anywhere in between.

A deeper look at WaveLogic 5 Nano

Not familiar with WaveLogic 5 Nano? Well, the WaveLogic 5 Nano modem takes advantage of our silicon photonics electro-optics expertise, along with our advanced high-speed packaging and assembly techniques to pack serious coherent power into a footprint-optimized package. These are fundamental technologies that we have invested in for several years now and have used to produce our Transceiver-on-Chip (ToC). The Transceiver-on-Chip is a multi-chip module comprising Ciena’s 7nm CMOS DSP and silicon photonics High-Bandwidth Coherent Optical Sub-Assembly (HB-COSA), co-packaged to enable coherent pluggables in compact form factors. Ciena’s ToC is instrumental to achieving the integration, miniaturization and low power required for pluggable applications.


Through our team’s concurrent development of electro-optics, DSP and photonic line systems, the WaveLogic 5 Nano engine has been designed with networking considerations in mind to ensure fit-for-purpose, deployable pluggable solutions.  A range of application-specific pluggable optic products will be offered, with bit rates ranging from 100G to 400G. The lower bit rates are more applicable in the access space, including extended temperature environments. At the higher bit rates, we will offer pluggables supporting 400ZR for single-span DCI, and others that support industry standard modes, such as ITU, Open ROADM, and CableLabs for applications requiring line interoperability.  We will also be offering pluggables that include our own performance enhancing DSP techniques to deliver best-in-class extended reach for multi-span metro and regional applications.

Coherent pluggables are only one part of Ciena’s WaveLogic 5 Nano networking solution. To address different application requirements,  WaveLogic 5 Nano pluggables will be supported across our 6500 and Waveserver platforms, as well as across our 51xx and 81xx switch/router portfolio. As with all our optical solutions, optimized photonic line systems, link engineering, design tools, multi-layer management and analytics round out the offering, providing programmability, intelligence, and actionable insights through our Adaptive NetworkTM portfolio of solutions.


With R&D investment that has never been stronger, we will continue to provide solution choice to help our customers best address their evolving network architecture requirements, with industry leading technology and reliable, innovative solutions that help them stay ahead for their customers. Today, we are seeing a lot of interest and excitement from our customers as they are deploying and realizing the benefits of WaveLogic 5 Extreme in their networks.  With WaveLogic 5 Nano, this interest and excitement will only continue to grow as they will be able to extend coherent technology benefits to new applications, including closer to the edge of the network.

Stay tuned for more details as we roll out the different solution offerings.

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