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Wednesday, 23 June 2010 17:10

Ciena sets up in Australia


Optical networking vendor Ciena - which beat Nokia Siemens in the auction for Nortel's optical networking and carrier ethernet business - has opened an office in Australia, largely using ex Nortel staff.


Ciena was named as the winning bidder for Nortel's assets in November 2009 with a $US730m bid. The transaction was completed in March 2010.

Ciena's purchase included substantially all product platforms, patents and intellectual property used in the businesses, and provided for the transition of substantially all of Nortel's optical networking and carrier ethernet customer contracts to Ciena. About 2,000 Nortel employees globally, almost 100 percent of those involved in the acquired businesses transferred to Nortel.

Ciena now has offices in Sydney, Melbourne and Auckland. These operations are led by Anthony Mclachlan as vice president and general manager Asia Pacific and, reporting to him, David McDermott regional managing director, Australia and New Zealand.

Both formerly worked for Nortel Australia. Mclachlan will be based in Sydney and McDermott in Melbourne. Prior to the acquisition Ciena had no presence and no customers in Australia and New Zealand.

Globally Ciena has about 4000 employees. Mike Aquino, senior vice president, global field operations at Ciena, declined to give any indication of local staff numbers and would only say: "We have all the sets of people we require including account management, field sales engineers. We have sufficient people to drive the customer experience in the Australia and New Zealand market place."


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Customers acquired with the Nortel business include AAPT, Optus, Uecomm, the ASX, TelstraClear and Southern Cross Cable. In the larger Asia Pacific region, Ciena has customers in China, India, Japan and The Philippines.

It claims to serve nearly three-quarters of the world's largest service providers and a number of global enterprises where it claims "a particularly strong track record in mission-critical financial and healthcare networks - as well as research and education institutions and other essential government agencies."

Ciena claims that Nortel was first to market with coherent 40G/100G optical systems, metro, long-haul and submarine transport, and it now claims to have more years of experience than any other company and the most field deployments worldwide for this technology.

According to Aquino, "There was minimal overlap between the product portfolios. What we got from Nortel was a very sophisticated leading edge optical transport technology specifically 40G and 100G technology.

"What Ciena had was next generation optical switching which is deployed in a number of the largest carriers around the globe and it enables you to build a high availability resilient architecture using that transport technology. And we are a leading provider of optical carrier ethernet solutions."


He added: "We see a convergence between optical transport and carrier ethernet that enables our customers to reduce the number of boxes."

He said the company's revenue breakdown globally was about 20 percent from enterprise, government and education, but it was difficult to separate sales to carrier for "pure network infrastructure" and sales to carriers of equipment primarily used to meet their customers' specific networking needs.

He said the company had moved into the regional market in response to customer demand and market potential. "We are here because our customers have demanded that we be global'¦ We cannot be the multibillion dollar company that we want to be (Ciena presently has annual revenues of about $US1b) over the next several years without contributions from the fastest growing market in the globe - the Asia Pacific.

"We have very strong relationships with partners, starting with our carrier customers. We have a partner programme called BizConnect that we use with partners like IBM, HP, EMC and regional systems integrators. We have a combination of direct touch and partners and we segment our partner base by carriers and carrier managed service, large integrators and local and regional integrators."


Aquino said there had been no formal partnerships signed in Australia at present "but we do have somebody in Australia who is responsible for our partnerships." McLachlan added that most sales would initially be through existing carrier partners/customers.

Telstra and the Victorian Education and Research Network (Vernet) have both trialled what was then Nortel's 40g/100G equipment. AAPT is using the former Nortel Common Photonic Layer platform for its optical backbone. According to COO David Yuile it is upgradeable to 100Gbps.

Nortel announced in August 2009 that, with Telstra it had successfully achieved100Gbps per wavelength over 2038kms of Telstra's existing optical network and 40Gbps over 3,370kms. The Nortel 40G technology is also deployed commercially over in Southern Cross Cable's US terrestrial network and has been trialled over distances of 8000kms in the submarine portion.

In December 2009, after the Ciena deal had been announced, Nortel announced what it claimed was the first commercially available 100Gbps per wavelength optical transmission technology and named Verizon as its first customer.




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