Next-gen, intelligent, flexible, automated, agile, optimized,  programmable, elastic.

Our industry has been using  these words for years to describe the end game for networks. With Ciena’s recent  25-year anniversary, we’ve been spending quite a bit of time looking back  at the early days – and it seems like the entire industry has been using these  aspirational network descriptions for as long as there have been networks.

Maybe 2018 is the year “aspirational” starts  to become “actuality.”

Like no other time in our industry’s history, a collection  of technologies and advancements is bringing the long-desired goal of a more  automated network closer to reality.

And none too soon.  Make your way out of the marketing slideware  and into the cold reality of real network operations, and most service  providers will tell you that much of their process is still too manual, with  multiple network-management systems that require spreadsheets and offline  planning tools to make even the simplest changes to the network.

Network operators do need greater automation to cope with the  harsh realities of today’s environment. But “full automation,” or so-called “autonomous  networking,” isn’t the complete answer they are seeking, because it’s now  clear that today’s environment isn’t the same one they will face tomorrow. In  this constantly-shifting ecosystem, automation alone will always have to be  revised and reset.

It is with this challenge in view that Ciena  brings the Adaptive Network to our  customers. We know that it’s not the biggest or the strongest who win in  tomorrow’s world – it’s those who adapt.   Adapt to new services.  Adapt to  unforeseen growth.  Adapt to changes in  how people use the unprecedented connectivity you’ve given them.

With the pace of growth in capacity,  devices and mobility, defining adaptability – the  right mixture of automation, intelligence, and scale – is frankly the answer  to survival.

With the pace of growth in capacity, devices and mobility, defining adaptability – the right mixture of automation, intelligence, and scale – is frankly the answer to survival.

The three keys to (finally) enabling the Adaptive Network

To be clear, constructing a more adaptive network takes more  than the industry finally finding the resolve to do it.  There are real technology advancements that  must be brought to bear.  It is these  advancements – nurtured in the care of those with the will and experience to  disrupt the status quo – that will drive the industry forward to the reality of  the Adaptive Network.

    Network  Analytics and Intelligence – the world of Big and Small Data has made its  way to networks. We have never been able to pull real-time data from the  network like we can today.  And with all  that data comes an ability to run network analytics like never before.  The result is the ability to take predictive  and adaptive action to both increase network uptime and adapt to real-time changes  in the network.

    Software  Control & Automation – as the industry moves to software-defined  networking (SDN)  and multi-vendor orchestration, true network automation becomes more  viable.  As new services are ordered, or  as data from the network shows the need to make real-time adjustments, it is an  open, software-based architecture with multi-domain service orchestration  (MDSO) that can take these requests and translate them into network actions.

    Programmable Infrastructure – Underlying  all of this is a dynamic pool of virtual and physical network resources.  Massive bandwidth is now table stakes. But unlike  generations past, this infrastructure must be highly scalable and open, with  standard northbound interfaces that allow more agile management and control.  A programmable  infrastructure must also possess advanced instrumentation with the ability  to feed real-time network performance data upward into analytic and  intelligence engines so real insight can be mined. From this, the network can  be tuned to respond dynamically to changing bandwidth demands and optimize  performance.

Foundational elements of an Adaptive Network as designed by an operator

From Roadmap to Reality

While the framework laid out above is clear, that doesn’t  make the path an easy one to follow. Today’s networks are more complex and  intricate than ever before.

The  good news? At Ciena we are constantly listening to our customers and thinking  about the way networks need to evolve. Ciena’s Adaptive Network vision has  actually been more than five years in the making, starting with our OPn  Architecture in 2012, followed by a series of innovations that significantly  increased the level of programmability of our customers’ networks.  These included WaveLogic 3 programmable  coherent optics, WaveLogic  Photonics reconfigurable photonic layer, WaveLogic  Ai, Waveserver  Ai, and Liquid  Spectrum.  We have also been  investing in our Blue Planet automation and analytics capabilities, recently  introducing Blue  Planet MCP, our Analytics  Framework, and Solution Practices.  Each  of these innovations have been designed with the principles of openness,  scalability and security in mind, ensuring we are equipping our customers with  solutions that break down complexity and allow them to rise to any business  challenge.

In reality, the evolution to the Adaptive Network is only just beginning.  This is an evolution that will take years to complete.  But for many, it is a journey of survival, and one you won’t have to take alone.

Although technology plays a critical role in any network  evolution, network providers also need to partner with vendors who have the  know-how and experience to help them traverse this complex journey. A strong  professional services partner with the right expertise can foresee challenges  and mitigate risks. Ciena Services are designed to do just that. Whether a network provider is taking an initial first step or planning  a larger-scale transformation to realize the Adaptive Network vision, Ciena  Services has the insight and proven experience to ensure the journey is  successful.

In reality, the evolution to the Adaptive Network is only  just beginning.  This is an evolution  that will take years to complete.  But for  many, it is a journey of survival, and one you won’t have to take alone.  At Ciena, we have the technology, people and  the experience – and most importantly we have the drive – to disrupt the status  quo and reframe the autonomous network discussion.

In  2018, you will hear the industry talk a lot about autonomous networking. Critical  to the conversation is Ciena’s unique perspective that moving toward an  Adaptive Network is a more relevant approach that focuses on our customers’  ability to thrive and win in a complex, hyper-competitive environment.  Our Adaptive Network vision combines a unique  set of technologies and services – including automation and beyond – that enable  you to conquer the complexity and uncertainty that define today’s world.

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