This morning, Ciena made its move into the network functions virtualization market. Not as a provider of VNFs themselves, but of a new managed services platform they'll be selling to service providers to help deploy and monetize them. Their new Agility division and flagship Agility Matrix software includes a marketplace, a usage and on-the-fly licensing director, and the ability to run things locally or via the cloud.
In that marketplace initially are five third party VNF vendors covering a range of applications: Certes (encryption), Brocade (virtual routers), Spirent (testing), Black Ridge (security), and Silver Peak (WAN Optimization). I've been hearing more and more from each of those names lately, as they look forward to broad adoption of NFV in service provider networks. Ciena isn't the only vendor looking to take on the role of managing such an ecosystem of course, but they are definitely on offense.
Ciena's new business division will start off with about 100 employees and will be led by Kevin Sheehan. In addition to the Agility Matrix solution, it will be the home of Ciena's SDN Multilayer WAN Controller, V-WAN, and all future SDN and NFV technologies that Ciena develops. The new NFV solution should be generally available before the middle of next year, assuming all goes well.
The open question for all SDN and NFV market participants is when and where the revenues start to be significant, and which older technologies get pushed aside in the process. Lots of revenue will be in play, and the smaller specialists are looking to get a bigger share of it.