Ericsson and Ciena are partnering in an effort to enable service providers to more rapidly deploy converged IP and optical networks that leverage software-defined networking capabilities.
The two companies will jointly develop transport solutions for such converged IP-optical networks and evolve those transport networks into software-defined networking (SDN) environments, they announced Feb. 14. The combination will give service providers the tools to create more programmable networks that will help them drive down costs and speed up the deployment of new services, according to Johan Wibergh, executive vice president and head of Ericsson's Business Unit Networks.
"The convergence between IP and optical network layers in an open SDN-controlled architecture will enable more flexible and cost-efficient networks for service providers," Wibergh said in a statement, adding that the ability to offer Ciena's packet-optical products will be a "great complement to our portfolio of fourth-generation IP products."
Ciena will bring its optical technology capabilities, such as its WaveLogic coherent optical processors, while Ericsson has a broad portfolio of IP (Internet protocol) routers and a services organization that has global reach, officials with the two companies said. As part of the partnership, Ericsson will offer Ciena's Converged Packet Optical portfolio, such as the 6500 Packet-Optical Platform and the 5400 family of products.
Officials with Ericsson and Ciena said the companies already have product integration and go-to-market efforts underway.
SDN is designed to make networks easier to program and more automated, flexible and cost-effective by taking the network intelligence from complex and expensive physical switches and routers and putting it into software-based controllers. It also creates an environment where network applications and services, such as load balancing and firewalls, can be developed on top of the network.
Service providers and enterprises alike are seen as key targets for SDN, which Infontetics Research analysts have said will become a $3.1 billion market by 2017. A survey by QuinStreet Enterprise—which publishes eWEEK—found that interest in SDN is high among organizations, but that it's still a developing technology and there is yet to be broad adoption.
Ericsson is a member of the several SDN standards groups, including the Open Networking Foundation (ONF) and the vendor-driven OpenDaylight Project. The latter group earlier this month launched the initial software release of its Hydrogen SDN platform, and Ericsson announced that it was opening a lab in San Jose, Calif., where developers can test their applications on the platform. Company officials hope it will help fuel the development of applications for the Hydrogen platform.
Ciena President and CEO Gary Smith said his company's agreement with Ericsson will further help push the development of more programmable and open networks for service providers.
"As our industry moves toward a more open networking environment, collaboration within an ecosystem of specialists will be critical for innovation," Smith said in a statement. "Our SDN-focused joint development activities will enable us to deliver on network transformation strategies that dynamically support changing demand for network-level applications and services."