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Original article posted on the Verizon Ventures blog. Read it here.

What was the inspiration for starting Lumina Networks?

Finding disruptive technology is always exciting, and never more so than when disruption has the ability to completely change an industry, such as in the case of Software Defined Networking (SDN). Until Lumina Networks came to the market with new Open Daylight (ODL) -based solutions, the networking equipment business had become staid and boring. Sure, networking vendors were releasing ever bigger and faster products, but the cost points weren’t coming down fast enough, and unlike everything else in the data center, all the equipment was proprietary and vendor lock-in was normal. The proprietary nature of this networking equipment wasn’t cosmetic. It has impeded the ability of large enterprises and telecom operators to digitize and automate their processes and networks because each hardware vendor has their own exclusive set of tools and management methods that didn’t work with other vendors.

To address this, and over the last four years, the trifecta of SDN, network function virtualization (NFV) and open source has radically disturbed this ecosystem, bringing the same disruption to networking that standardized servers, Linux and virtualization has brought to compute.

So when open source arrived into the networking arena we knew (in Brocade) there was an opportunity to lead the industry by packaging and productizing the leading SDN open source project – OpenDaylight. Four years ago, Brocade released their first commercial OpenDaylight distribution and built a series of companion applications and services.

Rolling the clock forward three years (to August 2017), we formed Lumina Networks as a spin-off from Brocade to receive these open source SDN controller assets and take advantage of this industry paradigm shift. This opportunity came about very uniquely, following the Brocade/Broadcom acquisition, where all of Brocade’s business units were sold, leaving Broadcom with Brocade’s Fibre Channel assets.

It was clear from Brocade’s customer base (Verizon included) that there was a passion to make sure that the SDN controller would end up in an independent company and not be swallowed by a traditional networking vendor. As a consequence, we received a huge amount of support from these customers as we went through the Brocade spin-out process.

Your background is focused on building, growing and managing products for a variety of networking organizations. Can you tell us about the problem Lumina Networks aims to solve?

It was clear from the outset that many service providers and large enterprises are committed to using open source in their networks but needed support to take projects out of their labs and into live deployments. We choose the OpenDaylight controller as the base for our software because it has the unique ability to bring SDN control to existing optical and IP networks, to virtual network functions, and to white-box deployments.

While most existing SDN deployments have focused on using overlay technology, which assumes the existing network is already provisioned and working (think Contrail or SD-WAN), Lumina set out to bring SDN control to existing services such as E-Line and E-Tree, and enable these existing services to be incorporated with new virtual network functions and white boxes.

Congrats on your recent funding round! How will your new fund help Lumina Networks?

We are very happy to be working with Verizon Ventures who has been very supportive through the entire divestiture process and through this funding round. We are using these new funds to further package and productize OpenDaylight and our applications so our SDN controller can reach a wider set of customers. We have strong interest (and customers) in Europe and Japan, where we intend to focus sales and implementation services

Can you tell us about your growth in the past year?

Since we spun out of Brocade in August 2017, we’ve secured major contracts with two large US operators (including Verizon), and a large operator in Asia. We’ve also worked with a number of web-scale companies including Snapfish to automate their data centers. On the product side, we’re now on our third OpenDaylight release, and have productized around a number of solutions including SD-Core (enabling white-box deployment in MPLS networks), Kubernetes and legacy network integration.

What big trends is Lumina Networks following in open source software and SDN?

OpenDaylight is now part of the Linux Foundation which includes other significant open source projects including ONAP, Kubernetes and OPNFV (to name just a few). As networks move towards virtualization and open source, and away from end-to-end proprietary solutions, it’s important that Lumina fits into this larger ecosystem. To this end, we’re building SDN connectors into many of these projects.

It’s now been five years since the industry started down the SDN and NFV journey and it’s only now we’re starting to see real deployments at scale. Lumina is uniquely positioned to take advantage of this shift with an industry-accepted opensource controller and a ready team to bring these projects out of the lab.

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