Ericsson and Ciena on Friday signed an agreement that will see them collaborate on converged optical networking and software-defined networks (SDN).
The partnership combines Ciena's optical transport expertise with Ericsson's mobile infrastructure prowess to offer telcos a more rounded portfolio.
"SDN-focused joint development activities will enable us to deliver on network transformation strategies that dynamically support changing demands for network-level applications and services," said Ciena CEO Gary Smith, in a statement.
Ovum principal analyst Ron Kline said in an email that the partnership will form "a strong carrier SDN ecosystem that will resonate well with Ericsson's and Ciena's customers and open the door for increased opportunities in SDN/NFV (network functions virtualisation)."
However, given that Ericsson already offers optical transport solutions, Friday's agreement also indicates "that Ericsson is admitting weakness in optical networking," he said.
Indeed, in addition to joint development of new solutions, the deal will also see Ericsson offer Ciena's Packet-Optical Platform and its WaveLogic range of optical processors.
Kline said the announcement will likely form part of a wider trend that sees full-service vendors like Ericsson collaborate with specialists like Ciena to "provide a stronger value proposition.
"The partnership could also open the door for future collaboration in the mobile backhaul market," he continued. "A combination of an integrated Ciena packet backhaul and Ericsson microwave radio would be tough to beat."