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Ciena splashes into metro routing market with WaveRouter

Jul 08, 2023Jul 08, 2023

Ciena is diving deep into the metro routing waters with today's launch of WaveRouter.

Heavy Reading Senior Principal Analyst Sterling Perrin said this is Ciena's first foray into "big routing as a company," and they're coming up against incumbents such as Juniper, Cisco, DriveNets and Arista.

This appears to be a big flagship product for entering the routing market, a way for Ciena to move more into the packet layer and broaden its product set beyond optics, added Perrin.

While being the new kid on a well-established block will be a challenge for Ciena, Perrin said that the company selected a "good insertion point at the metro." Ciena will probably begin deploying WaveRouter with existing optical customers where Ciena has a more established presence in the market, he added.

"They have high hopes for this as being their real strong entrance into routing as a company," he said. "Getting into the packet has always been a big strategic goal for Ciena, they've always been strong on optics."

While established in optics, Ciena needs new areas to gain market share in IP, explained Perrin. "IP historically has higher margins than optics. So from an investment standpoint or how investors look at the company, the more they grow in packet, that tends to be well received because there's pressures on margins in optics."

While WaveRouter will likely have similar scalability to DriveNets' routers, said Perrin, the big difference is that Ciena isn't developing a white box. Ciena differs from DriveNets in having a "non-open approach" to routers, he said, which is essentially a "hybrid" between traditional routed systems and a fully disaggregated approach.

Historically, the router and DWDM were separate, but Ciena is combining the two into a converged optical router. Ciena's WaveRouter will integrate IP over DWDM, with coherent optics, in a way that hasn't been done before, said Perrin.

While IPoDWDM with coherent optics isn't new, Ciena's disaggregated hardware architecture for the router is new.

"The ability to integrate the coherent optics directly onto the router is a key piece to WaveRouter," said Perrin.

In addition, the integration will assist in saving on space, power, cooling, Capex and Opex. Ciena said these benefits are achieved by combining the best platform architecture, transport technologies and software features of a traditional chassis, distributed disaggregated chassis (DDC) and leaf-spine approach.

"There's an industry trend of multilayer convergence happening, operators are trying to simplify, they're trying to scale more effectively," said Gina Nienaber, director of product marketing, routing and switching portfolio for Ciena. "And they're trying to build more sustainable networks."

There's a significant amount of change and activity occurring in the metro network, due in part to cloud adoption and bandwidth-heavy applications, and service providers are looking for ways to scale their IP networks as well, said Perrin.

WaveRouter has front-to-back air cooling and no backplane, which is found in a traditional chassis, so the router is cabled externally, explained Nienaber. This design contributes to the ability to expand the equipment in less space than a traditional chassis and improve on cooling the hardware, she said.

Ciena said that WaveRouter is part of its Coherent Routing strategy to address growth of metro traffic from 5G, high-speed broadband, enterprise business services and the cloud. The company also said WaveRouter can scale for traffic demands of 6 Tbit/s to 192 Tbit/s.

Customers can manage their IP and optical network services via Ciena�s Manage, Control and Plan (MCP) multi-layer domain controller, said the company. WaveRouter includes transport and pluggable coherent optics for network capacity starting at 400 Gbit/s and scaling to 1.6 Tbit/s.

WaveRouter users can also upgrade the system via universal slots that use both fabric and I/O interfaces. It can also integrate with Ciena's 5100 and 8100 chassis.

In addition to the WaveRouter, Ciena's 8140 and 8190 coherent routers operate in the metro.

WaveRouter will be generally available in Q3 of this year.

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— Kelsey Kusterer Ziser, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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