NWME: What kind of opportunities do you see in the Middle East market?
Ahmad: The Middle East is a strategic market for Ciena as it seeks to strengthen its global presence – we see long-term opportunities and intend to establish Ciena as an important player in the market. In terms of opportunities: the telecoms market in the Middle East, as many of its global peers, is undergoing a major transformation, experiencing a significant rise in voice, mobile and broadband traffic growth. As service demands and applications change, so too must networks – to effectively adapt to both new and changing requirements. Ciena is a network specialist globally renown for helping operators transition from TDM to packet-centric Optical and Ethernet optimised networks that are more economical, scalable, flexible and manageable to support these new services and applications. The time is ripe for Ciena to help operators in the Middle East address their key network challenges and migrate to next gen networks.
The situation is similar in the government and enterprise space – the rise of virtualisation, cloud computing, applications such as teleconferencing, VoIP, or even the sheer volumes of data stored and replicated by organisations in their data centres, all gradually render existing enterprise networks obsolete. This is driving the trend for a transition to faster, more reliable next generation optical and Ethernet network. With extensive experience of working with some of the world’s leading enterprises in sectors such as finance, utilities, healthcare, or research & education, as well as numerous government agencies, Ciena is uniquely positioned to help Middle Eastern organisations make such as technological leap.
NWME:What is Ciena’s value proposition to the enterprise market?
Ahmad: In a few words, Ciena creates networks that help network operators deliver services and infrastructure with greater profitability. Our differentiating capabilities include the ability to turn up services fast with zero touch, offer stringent – and advanced – QoS to enable any service type and deliver highly resilient, high-capacity, next-generation optical and Ethernet services for the enterprise market. Ciena also moves services “beyond bandwidth” – with value-added edge functionality for enterprise applications that enhances application performance and creates strong value and differentiation on provider services.
Yet again, enterprise networks are going through a significant change. Emerging applications like VoIP, video, Web services, and data replication are placing unprecedented performance demands on enterprise Metropolitan and Wide Area Networks (MANs/WANs). And in many businesses, quick time-to-market for new applications has become critical to success.
By consolidating all inter-site traffic on IP Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), enterprises can simplify operations and reduce costs. However, IP VPNs cannot meet the performance requirements of real-time video, storage replication, and other important applications. As a result, enterprises often maintain separate networks: an IP VPN for ordinary Local Area Network (LAN)-based applications; frame relay or ATM for legacy applications; a private line network for delay-sensitive voice and video; and perhaps SONET/SDH private lines for high-volume storage replication. But operating multiple networks drives up maintenance and management costs and complexities, and increases the time it takes to provision new network services to applications and end-users.
The Ciena networking approach, we call the FlexSelect Architecture, lets enterprises realise economic, operational and strategic benefits beyond those offered by other networking technologies. With a Ciena optical network, any combination of applications and protocols can share inter-site links flexibly and efficiently. Enterprise network operators can tailor bandwidth allocation for the most cost-effective fit, optimise the performance of IP, storage replication, and other types of traffic, and respond to changing application requirements with minimum incremental cost. Support for Optical Transport Network (OTN) standard, an ITU standard to replace SONET/SDH, also allows mapping of each traffic flow to transport bandwidth that most economically fits its data rate—a feature that is unique to Ciena. Finally, Ciena’s advanced power efficiencies typically mean lower operating costs and a more environmentally friendly “carbon footprint” than other solutions without sacrificing support for legacy SONET/SDH.
NWME: What is driving service provider investment in Ethernet?
Ahmad: While initially attractive due to its cost, currently the main driver for the adoption of Carrier Ethernet, especially for service providers, is focused on top-line revenue growth driven by the creation and deployment of new Ethernet services – with greater velocity, automation and customisation.
Some key emerging trends that are changing the traditional nature of telecom products and services and driving new demand curves include the maturation of virtualisation and cloud-based applications is driving significant changes in user behaviour and network resource utilisation. Since virtualisation is a demand trend that is shifting IT resources from the Local Area Network (LAN) into an operator’s or Application Service Provider’s network, it stresses the network to adapt and scale quickly. At the same time, however, quality and performance need to be ensured, particularly for those mission critical applications for which the enterprise user is trusting someone else to support. As a result, service providers are left with no choice but to evolve their business model to one that more effectively manages the demand for new services, network traffic distribution and bandwidth growth requirements, all of which can be addressed with Carrier Ethernet technology.
NWME: Ciena has demonstrated technology that can generate 100Gbps transmission over single wavelength. Where is Ethernet headed in the future?
Ahmad: Ciena remains a driving force in commercially available and cutting-edge optical technology, with our advancements being around 100G networking. We are leading the way with our 100G ultra-long-haul DWDM initiative at the Optical Interworking Forum (OIF). Our current 100G solution at NYSE Euronext represents the first commercial deployments of the technology in the world.
While the market is demand for 100G is still growing, we expect stronger alignment from demand to high-volume shipments in 2010-2011. This, by comparison, is much faster than 40G technology, which was discussed in the late nineties and only now reaching maturity.
As far as the future of broadband goes, it is clear that both consumers and enterprise users will drive the demand for 100G technology. Enterprise applications such as cloud based computing, Consumer applications such as IPTV and Video on Demand, as well as proliferation of high speed data services such as storage and disaster recovery across the enterprise all indicate that bandwidth demand is still growing faster than ever, with no slowdown in usage foreseen. This will of course not happen overnight, but I am sure over the next several years we will see more and more deployments of 100G technology to support such demands.
100G optical transport is the next logical step for both the evolution of Ethernet (10G to 100G) as well as Optical (40G to 100G), and SONET/SDH will no longer be the protocol of choice. With current estimates of traffic growth in the carrier backbone alone say that the bandwidth requirements double every 12-18 months, it is natural to believe that at one point we will find an even quicker way of networking (e.g., peer to peer networking), though 100G will likely carry us for another several years.