IHS Markit: Ciena tops the list of optical equipment vendors + Cignal AI’s OFC Preview

By Heidi Adams, executive director, network infrastructure, IHS Markit

Each year IHS Markit surveys service providers, in order to find out which companies they view as the leaders of the optical equipment market. The survey also explores their perceptions of vendors in key decision metrics, like pricing, total cost of ownership, technology innovation, research-and-development (R&D) investment, and product reliability.

Following are some of the key findings from this year’s survey:

Optical equipment vendor leaders:

In brand awareness, respondents perceive Ciena, Huawei, and Nokia as the overall leaders for optical transmission and switching equipment in 2018, with no change in the rankings from last year. These results are well aligned with positioning in the global optical network hardware market in the first three quarters of 2018, where Huawei, Ciena, and Nokia were ranked as the top three vendors by market share in this period.

Ciena was the most cited leader in optical DCI, with Huawei and Infinera tied for second place. Ciena also made significant strides this year in market perception for leadership in optical disaggregation, rising from third position in our 2017 survey to first-ranked position in 2018. Coriant (now Infinera), Huawei and Nokia all tied for second place.

Purchasing criteria:

IHS Markit survey respondents were also asked to identify the leaders in purchasing criteria, including pricing, technology innovation, product reliability, service and support and investment in research and development. The top three vendor selection criteria for optical equipment purchasing decisions in 2018 were, as follows:

  1. Product reliability
  2. Pricing
  3. Total cost of ownership

Ciena was the leader in 2018 for service provider perception of vendor leadership in product reliability, technology innovation, management software, and investment in research and development. Huawei topped the list for service provider perception of vendor leadership in pricing, total cost of ownership, solution breadth, and financial stability. Nokia was perceived as the leader in service and support for optical networks.

Optical Equipment Vendor Leadership Service Provider Survey – 2018

This survey explores how service providers evaluate and select optical transmission and switching equipment suppliers. It covers vendors installed and under evaluation and service provider opinions of vendors, including on key vendor selection criteria.


Cignal AI on OFC 2019–

400ZR Steals the Show:

No single topic at OFC will command as much attention as 400ZR, which is based on fourth-generation coherent technology and an OIF standard for coherent short reach DCI applications. Product development is well underway with over a dozen component and equipment companies spending in excess of $300M in this effort. The market for short reach coherent extends well beyond the DCI needs of Microsoft and Google. Derivatives (known as ZR+ or ZR plus) are emerging which are designed to meet the broader needs of network operators everywhere. ZR is the first coherent technology that will be both standardized and pluggable, and the emergence of ZR products will shake up the optical equipment landscape. One major impact is that 10G WDM will become obsolete in its only remaining stronghold- the edge of the optical network. The greater question is what role standalone optical hardware will play in the network as the performance and interoperability of coherent pluggables improve. Expect a cascade of activity at OFC from component and equipment companies as they uncover their ZR plans and demonstrate the latest optical engines, and some bombshell announcements and partnerships from the leaders in this space – Inphi, Acacia, Ciena, Cisco, Huawei, Nokia, and NTT Electronics.

While fourth-generation 400G products have been announced at OFC already for the last two years, 2019 is the year that these products start deploying for revenue. Starting in early 2019, third generation solutions from Acacia (via multiple hardware vendors), Nokia, Huawei, Fujitsu, and Infinera will join Ciena in live network deployments. Now that 400G is deployed, there will be multiple roadmap announcements at OFC seeking to leapfrog 400G and propose the next generation of coherent optical speeds. 600G is a given, but there will be 800G and perhaps 1Tbps announcements as well. Components suppliers and equipment manufacturers will show roadmaps to higher speed sixthgeneration coherent optical components in preparation for a 2020 introduction.

We expect Infinera to disclose more detail on its ICE6 R&D efforts and would not be surprised to hear Ciena talk about a successor to the Wavelogic AI now that competitive products are arriving in the market.

Disaggregation Continues, with Many Definitions: 

The disaggregation trend will continue to gain strength at OFC, but the definition will continue to change. Whereas the original concept was complete separation of switching transponders, ROADMs, and perhaps even components into separately manageable elements, now new solutions are starting to look more like traditional optical equipment. Compact modular systems, which are the most visible components of a disaggregation strategy, have moved from monolithic transponder or open line systems to more complex devices that can include switching and multiple functions in the same shelf. Some systems now even have modularity via cards (although they are called “sleds” rather than “cards”), making them look more like traditional systems in everything but physical dimensions. Several large operators are skeptical about disaggregation, while several others agree with the concept but consider current solutions too difficult to manage. Regardless, the industry-wide shift to disaggregation will accelerate as implementation becomes easier and better attuned to the needs of a wider variety of customers. General availability and customer announcements for 2019 are expected from several vendors, including ADVA, Cisco, Coriant, Fujitsu, and Nokia. In addition to the compact modular announcements,

3 thoughts on “IHS Markit: Ciena tops the list of optical equipment vendors + Cignal AI’s OFC Preview

  1. 5G related symposia at OFC 2019:

    5G Trials, Pilots, and Demonstrations, Monday, 4 March, 08:00 – 16:00

    Organizers: Thomas Pfeiffer, Nokia Bell Labs, Germany; Jun Terada, NTT, Japan; Shan Wey, ZTE, USA

    The fifth generation mobile networks (5G) have promised to transform mobile broadband services through a new network architecture that will enable significantly faster access speed, ultra-reliable low latency communications, and massive machine-to-machine communications, not only for mission critical applications but for everyone everywhere. As the industry is progressing towards 5G standards and 5G capable technologies, the deployment of 5G networks is about to become reality as evidenced by the flood of new product announcements and field trial reports by network operators.

    This symposium is intended to update the OFC community about the latest progress of 5G trials, pilots, and demonstrations. Use case scenarios involving a wide range of relevant vertical sectors, e.g., mobile broadband access, connected transport, digital health, smart cities/venues, creative media, will be discussed. By reporting on recent progress, we hope to highlight the role of photonic technologies in delivering 5G network solutions and further inspire and challenge the photonics industry to advance developments targeting the future mobile communication networks.

    The symposium is divided into three sessions. The first session will focus on 5G requirements and how major system vendors will realize x-haul transport over optical systems. The second session will provide insight into the perspectives and first experiences of leading telecom network operators and industrial players using 5G technologies. The third session finally will showcase future applications and field trials related to public sector initiatives.

    Session 1 – 5G Trials: Vendor’s Perspective
    Monday, 4 March, 08:00 – 10:00

    Francis Dominique, Nokia, USA
    Requirements of 5G Radio Netwoks on Optical X-haul Transport

    The high data rate and very low latency applications supported by 5G require an appropriate transport network to meet the requirements of these applications. This paper provides an insight to the requirements imposed by 5G radio access networks (RAN) on front/midhaul transport.

    Li Mo, ZTE, China
    ZTE’s 5G Trials

    Stefano Stracca, Ericsson, Italy
    Network Convergence in 5G Transport

    Soundarakumar Masilamani, C-DOT, India
    5G Rural Strategy in India

    Session 2 – 5G Trials: Network Operators’ and Vertical Industries’ Perspective
    Monday, 4 March, 10:30 – 12:30

    Kent McCammon, AT&T, USA
    Recent Progress of AT&T’s 5G Trials

    Yukihiko Okumura, NTT DoCoMo, Japan
    5G Trials in Japan

    Walid Mathlouthi, Google, USA
    Regulatory Aspects for 5G to Enable New Business Models

    Yuji Inoue, Toyota InfoTechnology Center, Japan
    Industry 4.0

    Session 3 – 5G Trials: Public Sector Initiatives
    Monday, 4 March, 14:00 – 16:00

    Dimitra Simeonidou, University of Bristol, UK
    Test Bed and Trials for 5G Content Delivery in England

    Harald Haas, University of Edinburgh, UK
    5G Rural Trials in Scotland

    Dan Kilper, COSMOS-PAWR, USA
    COSMOS: An Advanced Optical and Wireless Networking Testbed in NYC

    Moises Ribeiro, Universidade Federal do Espírito Santo, Brazil
    5G Research and Testbeds in Brazil


  2. As optical networking evolves, industry changes emphasize the increasing importance of software in optical communications. Today’s software research extends beyond SDN/NFV to address control and optimization of transmission systems, network planning, and device design, and OFC’s Demo Zone picks up on this trend.

    “OFC allows to us explore the latest software developments and discuss emerging trends,” said Laurent Schares, IBM Research, USA, an OFC 2019 general chair. “Now is the time to address operational strategies, use cases and field deployments — and demonstrations drive that point home.”

    OFC 2019 expanded this year’s Demo Zone to reflect industry evolution. The Demo Zone will feature live demonstrations of key software functions and tools for optical communication devices, systems and networks. From AI engine cooperation to an open dis-aggregated transport network and beyond, the OFC Demo Zone addresses topics of coordination and collaboration between systems and organizations.

    These proof-of-concept and research demonstrations offer an opportunity for small group, interactive dialogue, featuring real-time exchanges between attendees and presenters.

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