Ciena (NASDAQ:CIEN, news, filings) opened up a new front in the neverending battle for DWDM pre-eminence today by introducing a software-programmable coherent technology that scales all the way to 400Gbps. The new generation of silicon chips, which goes by the name WaveLogic 3, is about more than speed despite the big number.
The programmability, if it turns out to fulfill its promises, will let network operators much more flexibiltiy in choosing how to get the most out of their fiber. It can double the total capacity of current 100G solutions, reaching as high as 17.6Tbps per fiber. Or in another direction it can let operators optimize for low latency or long distance, or help scale grid environments - all via software, not swapping out equipment.
Now that the difficulties of 100Gbps itself are well in hand, the entire industry is shifting its focus toward how to better manage it and what they come up with will be what makes the economics of 100Gbps finally work. Ciena's solution looks quite interesting. A resurgent Cisco and Alcatel Lucent will have their own plans of course, as will Infinera and Huawei and others. Next week is OFC/NFOEC, so this announcement is surely one of many that we will be hearing about over the next few days.