Ciena Blue Planet now operates as its own division within Ciena. This news was announced on December 13, 2018, as part of Ciena’s Fiscal 2018 earnings call, and the decision took effect in November at the start of Ciena’s new fiscal year. This move was made to allow Ciena to continue honing our focus and resources on addressing the high-growth market opportunity for intelligent software automation.

Andy Youé is the Blue Planet Vice President for Sales & Delivery. He joined the Ciena Blue Planet team in April 2018 and has been working diligently to drive the opportunity for Blue Planet forward across the global customer base. We recently chatted with Andy and had a great discussion about the Blue Planet opportunity, how to best support the service provider evolution and why he came to Ciena Blue Planet. Read on for the details.

Christine Keck:  Andy, what made you want to join the Blue Planet team? What from your background fits the Blue Planet need?

Andy Youé: I was drawn to join Ciena Blue Planet because some very talented people I’ve previously worked with in this industry had also come to Blue Planet. That made me curious. Once I started asking more questions and understanding the Blue Planet strategy, I kept seeing more things that were compelling – smart technology choices, strong strategic direction, committed leadership. It was all something I wanted to be part of.

As to my background, I joined Cramer in 2001. For those who aren’t familiar, Cramer was an OSS company for the telecom industry that was acquired by Amdocs in 2006. I also spent close to 10 years at Oracle, where I led the Consulting and Solutions practice for North America focused on selling and delivering comprehensive large solutions and services projects. I still see many Cramer colleagues around the industry today, and many of them have landed here at Blue Planet. This is a team I trust, and I trust the direction that Blue Planet is moving.

We say this all the time: “You can’t automate what you can’t visualize.” We find ourselves in many conversations with service providers about visualization of network assets and network behaviors.

CK:  What do you see are the biggest opportunities for the industry now?

AY: The industry has become an exciting place again as a result of virtualization. We’re seeing lots of activity around SDN and NFV now, which brings with it network management and technology challenges. Couple this with the increasing need for service providers to innovate to stay relevant and the trends to decrease Opex, and network operators find themselves looking in the direction of automation for help. That’s obviously great for us.

We say this all the time: “You can’t automate what you can’t visualize.” We find ourselves in many conversations with service providers about visualization of network assets and network behaviors. These are areas where we have strength, experience and strong products like Blue Planet Inventory (BPI) and Blue Planet Route Optimization and Assurance (ROA). The breadth of need for automation is a common factor irrespective of region, operator or scale.

Customers have too many IT systems. In many instances, operators have hundreds of different systems. That’s not sustainable in a “digitally transformed” future. Service provider imperatives today are SD-WAN, VNF onboarding, virtualized mobile packet core and others. When you have a swivel-chair approach that has to access all of these potentially hundreds of systems to make a good decision and get a new solution in place for a customer, it gets complicated – and expensive – very quickly.

CK:  What do service providers need to hear or see before they feel comfortable moving forward more energetically with automation?

AY:   Visualization is critical. Knowing what their network looks like is huge for them and – it’s something they’ve not been able to see completely before! It opens a world of possibility for the operator. Also, customers like to understand the expected cost benefits of automating inefficient services. Many of our customers see large operational efficiencies after implementing Blue Planet. And once it’s deployed, operators start to see and learn what else they can do and how to automate additional services over their network. Introducing new technology is often so complex that when you can’t see your network, the only way forward is to introduce or manage a service manually and with spreadsheets. When we help customers see their network in more detail, the automation possibilities become much clearer.

CK: What are your goals for Blue Planet?

AY: It’s very simple: I want to make Blue Planet a major player in the OSS and automation space.  We are already seen as a disruptor – we have the right technology at the right time. There is much to do, and the team here is talented, motivated and capable of doing it. We’re really excited about the future, and that energy is infectious.

CK: Andy, how do you keep your batteries charged outside of work? What do you do for fun?

AY: In my spare time I like travel and hiking. My wife often joins me on my international travels. On weekends, I usually work on an old car or tractor “under restoration” in my garage. And I am excited to be taking flying lessons with a view to becoming a private pilot.