Ciena Closes Cyan Deal, Launches Network Software Unit

Ciena's new Blue Planet Division will bring together the software resources of both companies as it makes a stronger push into SDN and NFV.

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Ciena, now that it has brought Cyan into the fold, is bringing its growing networking software resources under the umbrella of its new Blue Planet Division.

The company closed its $400 million deal for Cyan Aug. 3, a move designed to enhance its capabilities within the fast-growing software-defined networking (SDN) and network-functions virtualization (NFV) markets.

Once the deal closed, Ciena officials announced the new Blue Planet unit, an 800-employee division that will include its Agility business, SDN Multilayer WAN Controller, V-WAN, Agility matrix and network management offerings, as well as Cyan's network software applications, including Planet Orchestrate and Planet Operate.

The products will be used to help businesses automate the creation, orchestration and delivery of their services across both physical and virtual networks, according to Ciena officials. The new unit will be led by Mike Hatfield, who had been Cyan's president and will now be a senior vice president at Ciena.

The new Blue Planet Division "will provide next-generation multi-vendor network management software and service orchestration solutions, for both physical and virtual network functions, to accelerate our customers' network transformation strategies," Hatfield said in a statement.

The goal is to help network operators migrate away from closed, proprietary systems and toward more open, software-controlled infrastructures, he said.

SDN and NFV allow for the network controller and networking tasks—like load balancing, firewalls, and intrusion detection and prevention—to be moved into software that can run on inexpensive, commodity hardware. The result is networking infrastructures that are more agile, programmable and flexible, enabling network operators to more quickly deliver services to their customers.

Cyan's multivendor network and service orchestration and network management software complements Ciena's network control technology and applications, according to officials. The Blue Planet portfolio will include an SDN and NFV platform that manages the life cycle of virtualized services within the data center and WAN. In addition, the Cyan acquisition gives Ciena greater capabilities in the packet-optical space.

"Blue Planet is the well-known brand for Cyan's SDN and NFV portfolio, and we are leveraging that strong brand equity going forward to encompass our entire software portfolio," Gary Smith, Ciena's president and CEO, said in a post on the company's blog.

Smith said Ciena's acquisition of Cyan gives his company more capabilities in a network virtualization market that is still in its infancy.

"I've called the shift to software-based, on-demand networks and services a true inflection point in our industry, and I still believe that," he said. "Our customers are actively looking to move to software-defined networks, and they are asking us to help them make that transition. The network software market is still nascent, so this acquisition gives us first-mover advantage and positions us extremely well in an important and growing space."

Ciena began a significant push into software in 2012, when it launched its OPn architecture that included software-enabled orchestration and automation through open interfaces. The company has since broadened that focus to the concepts of SDN, NFV and virtualization, Smith said, noting that 80 percent of the company's R&D employees work on software development.