In the New IP, ecosystems are essential to doing business -- all kinds of ecosystems, from suppliers to service providers to unexpected combinations.
The importance of ecosystems is not lost on the communications industry, which is trying to rapidly adapt to meet the demands of an agile, virtualized, software-defined way of doing business. (Listen to The Essential New IP Ecosystem.)
In the last few weeks, two companies have announced the expansion of their supplier ecosystems. Specifically, Cyan added seven new partners to Blue Orbit, its ecosystem of partners focused on delivering applications and infrastructure platforms for multi-vendor software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) deployments. Included in the seven are Brocade, Genband, Intel, VMWare and Wind River, among others. (See Cyan Adds Brocade, Intel, VMWare to Blue Orbit.)
Separately this month, Cisco joined the Intel Network Builders Ecosystem, a group of over 130 vendors and suppliers which focuses on building an alliance of companies to help develop NFV/SDN and open standards technology.
This ecosystem is a plus for Ciena, which announced its intent to buy Cyan earlier this month. "What Cyan brings to the table is not just the NFV and SDN software, but our very strong ecosystem of partners," said Joe Cumello, chief marketing officer of Cyan, in an interview with The New IP. (See Ciena to Acquire Cyan for $400M and Ciena's Cyan Buy: It's All About the Software.)
With SDN and NFV being new technologies and a transformational method of building networks, it's important to show that these new technologies are going to work and work together – and that is one of the main values of an ecosystem like Blue Orbit, according to Cumello. "Customers need to feel that this is going to work," said Cumello, referring to new technologies. "With an ecosystem, you are showing openness, and that you can work together with other companies to create a solution."
Some of the big differences in the New IP -- or NFV and SDN -- landscape, are that the customers need to lower operational costs, smooth operations and compete with the over-the-top players so they are willing to work with smaller vendors like Cyan to make this happen, noted Cumello.
"Customers are driving this change. That is different from the last 20 years when the industry came up with the innovation... and service providers said they were only going to work with the big companies," he said. "So smaller companies working together in ecosystems is part of making the larger service providers feel comfortable with what we are doing."
The Intel Network Builders Ecosystem is aimed specifically at advancing openess, though standards and open source.
"What we are trying to do is create an ecosystem that works together to advance how open standards and open source can be used to create interoperability between solutions," said Rene Torres, Intel’s director of marketing for SDN and NFV. "In combining the supply chain together with the end users, what you have is a very exciting collaborative ecosystem helping to take open source, open standards and be able to create solutions around them, specifically for SDN and NFV."
Already the collaboration between Cisco and the Intel Network Builders Ecosystem has resulted in four advances: network service header (NSH) standards to enable service chaining as a standard for SDN and NFV; OpenDaylight contributions for service chaining; Open vSwitch; and data plane development to enable high throughput and latency for packet performance.
"If you combine those four, what you have is the ability to enable virtual functions -- like virtual routing or virtual firewall -- to work, and to instantiate or tear down and set up rules in terms of how the packet flow works between the different virtual appliances, all using open source and open standards," said Torres. "The open source and open standards groups have really proliferated in a good way."
In the New IP world, we could say the same thing about ecosystems, too.
— Elizabeth Miller Coyne, Editor, The New IP