Ciena reimagines routing with a view from the ground up

Ciena is taking a new approach to routing with its freshly unveiled WaveRouter platform, aiming to meet the demands of the converged metro network in the multi-cloud era. Steve Alexander told Fierce the product is designed to offer unprecedented visibility with a single-pane-of-glass view of Layers 0 through 3.

The vendor already has a significant share in the edge market. But according to Alexander, it’s not currently a major presence in the large-scale metro router space. However, it’s looking to make a name for itself with WaveRouter. So, Alexander said, it didn’t make sense to copy solutions that were already available. Instead, it came at the problem a little differently.

“The foundation for all these networks is photonics infrastructure,” he said. “And what we’ve tried to do here is start with that as a fundamental principal….We started with a clean sheet.”

WaveRouter is scalable from 6 Tbps to 192 Tbps in 6 Tbps increments and offers consistent multi-layer domain control and visibility across Layer 0, 1, 2 and 3. It is compatible with a variety of performance-oriented and pluggable optics from 400G all the way through Ciena’s recently unveiled 1.6 Tbps WaveLogic offering.

Alexander said the scalability is intended to make the product future-proof while the visibility addresses not only automation needs but also multi-cloud environments.

“The whole industry got to this point by building on an OSI stack that was opaque,” he said. “Now there are real benefits if you start to share information across those layers. If I can really share information across Layers 0, 1, 2, 3, I can do a much better job. I can automate better if I can see all that. I have a better operating model, a simpler operating model that’s more scalable than it’s ever been.”

According to the CTO, WaveRouter is targeted at service providers. He noted WaveRouter has many features built into it that make it attractive for central office environment, which typically have specific space and energy requirements. It has a different form factor than most routers, using angled faceplates to enable the use of passive DAC cables, and also offers expandable power distribution for pay-as-you-grow deployments.

Alexander added Ciena worked closely with its customers on WaveRouter’s design and development. Indeed, it seems as if Verizon is on board with the new approach, given its Director of Network Planning Glenn Wellbrock was quoted in a blog accompanying the launch.

In terms of who it’s up against as it targets the metro routing space, Ciena will be going head-to-head with giants including Cisco, Nokia, Huawei and Juniper Networks.

WaveRouter will be generally available in Q3.