Ciena Migrates Over 70 Percent of Their Workforce to Perforce

Ciena uses Helix VCS for the majority of its document and source code management projects. The use of Helix VCS by technical and non-technical groups at Ciena forms the crux of this study.

Why Ciena Migrated the Majority of Its Developers to Perforce Helix


Ease of use

Speed and flexibility

Simplicity that non-technical staff understand

Smoother transitions

Improved traceability increasing productivity

Our developers were quickly won over by the high speeds in Perforce Helix

especially when submitting and tracking document changes, and began utilizing the tool in multiple projects."

Image Testimonial Ciena
Ciena booth via

Shawn Jamison is the sole, full-time Helix Administrator at Ciena, in Atlanta, GA. He monitors and tracks changes submitted by more than 700 users on six Helix servers and nine proxy servers at three remote sites. Jamison also manages two home-grown, automated build tools that are completely integrated with Perforce.


Headquartered in Linthicum, Maryland, Ciena Corporation is a leader in communications network platforms, software, and professional services, employing more than 1,600 people across the Americas, Europe, and Asia.

Ciena specializes in transitioning networks from a technology platform cost center to a customer platform that creates maximum business, operational, and end-user value. With industry-leading features, functionality, and performance, Ciena's offerings form the foundation for many of the largest, most reliable, and sophisticated service providers, cable/MSOs, enterprises, and government networks across the globe.

Ciena uses Helix VCS for the majority of its document and source code management projects. The use of Helix VCS by technical and non-technical groups at Ciena forms the crux of this study.


Development Environment at a Glance

  • Company name: Ciena Corporation
  • Headquarters: Linthicum, MD
  • Industry: Networking
  • Perforce customer since: 1998
  • Number of Perforce users: 750
  • Connectivity environment: LAN/WAN
  • Number of development sites: 5: Atlanta, GA; Acton, MA; Maryland; Canada; India
  • All servers: Atlanta, GA
  • Proxy servers: 9
  • Number of files under Perforce control: 13 million files across 6 different servers
  • Number of files under main Perforce server: 10 million
  • Number of changes: 504,000
  • Number of administrators: 1 full time administrator
  • Client hardware: Mainly Windows with some flavors of Linux
  • Server hardware: Compaq, Dell on Windows, Unix
  • Main server: Windows Server 2003 Standard


Ciena Adopts Perforce

Ciena has been a Perforce customer for more than eight years, after acquiring a company which was already using the system.

Following the acquisition, existing developers at Ciena were impressed with Perforce's ease of use and suggested migrating the majority of their document and source code management projects to Perforce. Today, more than 70 percent of relevant Ciena employees use Perforce for application and open source development, and both project and content management.

"Generally, developers don't like learning new versioning tools," explained Shawn Jamison, Perforce Administrator for Ciena. "But our developers were quickly won over by the high speeds of Helix, especially when submitting and tracking document changes, and began utilizing the tool in multiple projects."

"Additionally, the simplicity of Helix has enabled many non-technical users, who don't traditionally use a version control system, to manage their projects more efficiently," added Jamison.

At Ciena, a standard method is used for development. Helix VCS is used to manage and track code throughout the network application development cycle. Helix VCS gives Ciena developers the ability to seamlessly control several projects simultaneously, even when up to 700 users are submitting files.


Helix Manages Project and Training Documentation

Ciena produces a variety of product and engineering release documentation. In the past, employees were encountering issues when generating new release documents, because each new version would automatically reference indices from previous release versions. As individuals attempted to make modifications, changes would not translate and valuable time was wasted while teams went through countless administrative steps to ensure all references within the new releases were up to date. The continuous confusion, which resulted in the inability to meet scheduled deadlines, drove the need for a new documentation management solution.

"Modifications to documents were being made by various sources and original versions were getting lost in the shuffle," said Jamison. "Employees needed to continuously re-do document updates, causing unnecessary delays."

Some of the developers working on these projects suggested using Perforce Helix as the new management system. While at first hesitant to adopt a completely new system, resistance among the project users quickly dissipated as they discovered how easy it was to use Helix and its ability to adapt to their specific needs.

"The documentation team decided to use Helix for managing document revisions by forcing users to submit all changes through Helix. The system made it very simple for the team to review direct changes to their comments, comparisons to the original document could be made easily, and the changes in each version were already saved."

Managers were able to save original project document versions and track modifications, resulting in an increase in productivity, consistency, and reliability. In addition, with their new versioning capabilities in Helix, project managers were able to successfully manage changes and approvals across multiple projects without losing critical information.


Perforce for Content Management

Ciena has made several acquisitions during the years, resulting in numerous engineering intranet sites. The company needed to consolidate those individual sites into one common, global engineering intranet, which required the consolidation of hardware, source, digital assets, documentation, databases, software applications and more, spread out across several time zones.

"Helix has been instrumental in consolidating the segmented engineering intranet sites into a single intranet presence, and has made the transition much simpler," explained Jamison. "Helix is able to track and save all changes in our intranet as we re-architect, efficiently providing the document repository foundation for managing the numerous documents and versions that are currently driving the software development lifecycle."



Perforce Helix is quickly becoming the tool of choice at Ciena for new development projects. Its flexibility and the speed with which it performs have made many employees ardent fans. "Last, and certainly not least, the technical support staff at Perforce is excellent and they are able to navigate us through any issue with amazing precision," concluded Jamison.

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