Ciena Agility Matrix offers online shopping for VNFs

A bit late for Cyber Monday but early enough for Christmas, Ciena (NYSE:CIEN) has launched a software platform through which managed services providers (MSPs) can offer their enterprise customers online shopping for virtual network functions (VNFs). The company says the Agility Matrix platform offers a new "pay as you earn" business model for service providers. It also may offer a new business model for Ciena, as the company has created the Ciena Agility business division to market the product – which doesn’t require Ciena optical transport or switching hardware to operate – and Ciena’s other software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) products and technology.

A bit late for Cyber Monday but early enough for Christmas, Ciena (NYSE:CIEN) has launched a software platform through which managed services providers (MSPs) can offer their enterprise customers online shopping for virtual network functions (VNFs). The company says the Agility Matrix platform offers a new "pay as you earn" business model for service providers. It also may offer a new business model for Ciena, as the company has created the Ciena Agility business division to market the product – which doesn’t require Ciena optical transport or switching hardware to operate – and Ciena’s other software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) products and technology.

Ciena says the Agility Matrix closes the "agility gap" between the flexibility and speed of service access enterprise customers want and the ability of static, hardware-based carrier networks to meet these desires. The platform includes VNF Market, an open, online marketplace through which enterprise network managers can order third-party VNFs, and Director, a management and orchestration engine that ensures the services are set up and working, and then manages billing for them. Ciena has lined up a variety of companies ready to offer VNF versions of their services through the VNF Market, including security vendors BlackRidge Technology and Certes Networks, WAN optimization appliance supplier Silver Peak, test instrument vendor Spirent Communications, and Brocade, which will offer a variety of virtual capabilities, including virtual routing. Ciena sources told journalists on a webcast yesterday that it expects to add other vendors and products in the future.

The VNFs will be offered through a variety of licensing models, depending upon the function and the vendor.

The use of the Agility Matrix enables a more success-based business model for service providers, Ciena says. Instead of having to buy, stock, install, and support a variety of hardware-based appliances, the virtualized approach speeds service roll out, reduces inventory and cost, and enables service providers to pay only for the VNFs actually in use and only for as long as they're in use.

The Agility Matrix should be available in the second quarter of 2015, although potential customers are already evaluating the platform, Ciena sources said. The product represents a new direction for Ciena, which has previously offered software-based platforms such as network management systems and service provisioning systems directly tied to its optical transport systems and Ethernet switches. The company has underscored this notion through the creation of the Ciena Agility business division under the direction of Vice President and General Manager Kevin Sheehan. In addition to the Agility Matrix, the new division will also manage Ciena's SDN Multilayer WAN Controller and its applications, V-WAN, and any future SDN and NFV development.

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