Light Reading

AT&T Working on Home-Grown SDN Controller for Later in 2014

Dan Jones
5/16/2014
50%
50%

AT&T is plunging deeper into the world of software-defined networking with plans to develop its own controller for network bandwidth allocation and other services this year.

At an "Innovation Showcase" in New York City Friday, Marian Croak, AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) SVP of Domain 2.0 architecture and advanced services development, revealed that the operator is working on a "controller" to manage network functions and services as Ma Bell moves to run its network on "low-cost hardware" with the functionality abstracted into software. (See AT&T Spotlights Early SDN Efforts.)

"We're building this programmable controller now. I think you'll see it later this year," Croak said. It will enable AT&T to better manage and reroute network capacity, amongst other services.

This wouldn't be the first time AT&T pioneered its own SDN developments. The company has been running an early version of SDN, known as intelligent routing service control point, or IRSCP, in its core network for six or seven years now. That technology, which separates the data and control planes and allows for distributed control of routing, is now powering AT&T NetBond, a service that lets enterprises connect to the AT&T cloud via secure links that appear as nodes on their MPLS-based virtual private networks. (See AT&T Spotlights Early SDN Efforts.)

The eventual aim is to let AT&T's customers tailor their networks to their own needs. "As customers of AT&T, you'll be able to design your own network," Croak said. This "user-defined network cloud" needs maximum flexibility in use of network resources.

There is a lot of work to be done, however, between now and AT&T reaching that lofty goal. To that end, AT&T has been refocusing a lot of its research teams on NFV and SDN work, Greg Bond from AT&T Labs told Light Reading at the event.

"The controller doesn't exist yet," Bond told us. He says that AT&T is working on multiple software-defined projects in the labs, as well as with established vendors and startups.

He stresses that AT&T isn't wedded to any particular specification for projects but has employed some for ease of use and so that partners have a frame of reference to work with. For instance, AT&T has used OpenFlow for data center bandwidth balancing.

Bond says that the new controller will pull from work being done across AT&T Labs. "We're working on three levels of orchestration," he says. The operator is using the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) standard as an SDN/NFV template for now.

Bond admits that AT&T is working on a tight schedule to pull together its ambitious software-defined plans. "We're working really hard on this," he says. (See AT&T Reveals Audacious SDN Plans.)

Still, Bond is cheered by the way AT&T has steered its ship resolutely into software waters. "I'm a software guy. So it makes me happy."

AT&T believes its early work in SDN, through the IRSCP and other efforts, gives it an edge in deploying virtualization, according to Chris Rice, vice president, advanced technologies, at AT&T Labs.

"We have seen how SDN can be deployed at scale in a wide-area commercial network," Rice told Light Reading. "We are some of the early pioneers of this stuff, and there are other things we've done that people haven't seen yet."

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

(8)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Threaded  |  Newest First  |  Oldest First        ADD A COMMENT
Carol Wilson
50%
50%
Carol Wilson,
User Rank: Blogger
5/16/2014 | 5:19:02 PM
The proof is in the paper
Here's a link to the paper written by AT&T and UC-San Diego in 2007 on what is essentially an early version of SDN: 

https://www.usenix.org/legacy/events/usenix07/tech/full_papers/verkaik/verkaik_html/index.html
desiEngineer
50%
50%
desiEngineer,
User Rank: Light Beer
5/19/2014 | 1:20:31 PM
Re: The proof is in the paper
Amazing stuff!!  I've been hearing about IRSCP for some time now.

Routing, QoS, redundancy, policy, DDoS, VPNs (aka overlay/underlay management), looks like BGP can manage it all.  SDN management was staring at us and we didn't realize it.

Will IRSCP be an open source contribution from ATT Labs?

-desi
Carol Wilson
50%
50%
Carol Wilson,
User Rank: Blogger
5/19/2014 | 1:57:01 PM
Re: The proof is in the paper
I asked that question and was told it kinda already is in that the paper is public and they won an award from DARPA for this work. I don't know that they are making a specific contribution to the ONF, however. 
desiEngineer
50%
50%
desiEngineer,
User Rank: Light Beer
5/19/2014 | 3:46:34 PM
Re: The proof is in the paper
Ha!  What's their motto: Rough consensus and running paper?  I know I'm getting my standards bodies mixed up, but surely ATT isn't in the business of developing SDN controllers, and their objective must be to seed the community with a concrete way forward, not a 7-year-old paper that was written before the days of SDN (and VNFs which, though not necessarily related, are a great enabling environment for SDN).

-desi
sam masud
50%
50%
sam masud,
User Rank: Light Sabre
5/19/2014 | 4:49:48 PM
Re: The proof is in the paper
Other than saying we can build one too, is this ATT's way of indicating that it's not overly impressed with the work of the OpenDaylight Project or any other vendor developed controller (e.g. Cisco, Juniper etc.). Don't understand why ATT going down this road...
DanJones
100%
0%
DanJones,
User Rank: Blogger
5/20/2014 | 6:20:18 AM
Re: The proof is in the paper
My guess is that they're not seeing a system they can buy that will do all they want it to do. That seems to generally be the reason that AT&T will generally get involved in dense software development.
DanJones
50%
50%
DanJones,
User Rank: Blogger
5/20/2014 | 6:22:27 AM
Re: The proof is in the paper
At the event, Chris Rice briefly mentioned that AT&T is becoming a bigger user of -- and contributor to -- open-source software. He didn't elucidate further, so take as you will.
t.bogataj
50%
50%
t.bogataj,
User Rank: Light Sabre
5/20/2014 | 2:16:50 AM
Re: The proof is in the paper
An early version of SDN? The same you can say for T-MPLS, MPLS-TP, PBT, or PBB-TE: they all excluded the complex control plane from network elements. A nice article, but nothing revolutionary.

T.
Flash Poll
From The Founder
Anshul Sadana answers questions from Steve Saunders, Light Reading's founder and CEO, about Arista's CloudVision, a global cloud network controller for workload orchestration and workflow automation delivering a turnkey solution for cloud networking.
Live Streaming Video
CLOUD / MANAGED SERVICES: Prepping Ethernet for the Cloud
Moderator: Ray LeMaistre Panelists: Jeremy Bye, Leonard Sheahan
LRTV Custom TV
End-User or Enterprise Benefits to the New IP

7|30|15   |   04:27   |   (0) comments


Andrew Coward discusses what the New IP means to end users or enterprise customers. He explains compelling reasons, including how every customer can get their own network, from the transformation to the New IP.
LRTV Custom TV
Network Visibility & the New IP

7|30|15   |   02:23   |   (0) comments


Mukund Srigopal provides an explanation of what network visibility is and how it is essential as service providers transition to the New IP. In addition, the importance of the network packet broker is discussed.
Between the CEOs
Video Exclusive With Basil Alwan, Alcatel-Lucent

7|24|15   |   26:44   |   (5) comments


Basil Alwan, President of IP Routing & Transport at Alcatel-Lucent, discusses virtualization, cultural challenges, the capex crunch and more with Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders.
LRTV Custom TV
VDF: Enable the Financial With Mobile Money

7|20|15   |   06:53   |   (0) comments


Ian Ravenscroft discusses how operators can expand to occupy the entire digital services value chain through service innovation.
LRTV Custom TV
Telefónica on OSS Transformation

7|20|15   |   06:01   |   (0) comments


Jose Gonzales discusses the details of Telefónica's operation transformation program.
LRTV Custom TV
Judi Achmadi on Huawei's Cloud Storage Solution

7|20|15   |   03:33   |   (0) comments


Judi discusses the key business goals of TelekomSigma's public cloud service and how Huawei's solution helps them address challenges.
LRTV Custom TV
KPN Enlightening Digital Business & IT Transformation

7|20|15   |   06:19   |   (0) comments


Rob de Beer discusses the changes that operators need to make with service innovation now coming from the Internet world.
LRTV Custom TV
Stratus Telco-Grade Cloud Solutions & NFV

7|20|15   |   07:34   |   (0) comments


Ali Kafel from Stratus Technologies addresses high-availability concerns within the telco industry with a solution that enables telcos to provide high-availability and stateful fault-tolerance using a software-based approach.
LRTV Documentaries
The Six Million Dollar Business Man

7|20|15   |   01:52   |   (0) comments


Steve Saunders, publisher. A man barely alive after an acquisition malfunction imploded the company he founded. Gentlemen, we can rebuild Light Reading. Better, faster, stronger.
Between the CEOs
CEO Chat With Anukool Lakhina, Guavus

7|20|15   |   38:51   |   (1) comment


Guavus CEO Anukool Lakhina talks to Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders about the role of operational analytics in the communications services and networking sectors, particularly in relation to IoT.
LRTV Custom TV
IBM's Flash Storage With Intel QuickAssist

7|20|15   |   03:18   |   (0) comments


Intel's Bev Crair and IBM's Eric Herzog discuss how IBM's V9000 Flash Storage System has helped customers around the world. Featuring real-time compression powered by Intel QuickAssist Technology, the V9000 is a next-gen flash storage solution.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Thailand's AIS: Transforming to an FMC Operator

7|17|15   |   4:53   |   (0) comments


Saran Phaloprakarn, Senior VP of Fixed Broadband Business Management of Thailand's AIS, was a keynote speaker at the first Asia-Pacific Ultra Broadband Summit in Bangkok. In this video, he talks to Heavy Reading about transforming into an FMC (FBB+MBB+Content) operator.
Upcoming Live Events
September 16-17, 2015, The Westin Galleria Dallas, Dallas, TX
September 16, 2015, The Westin Galleria Dallas, Dallas, TX
September 16, 2015, The Westin Galleria Dallas, Dallas, TX
September 29-30, 2015, The Westin Grand Müchen, Munich, Germany
October 14-15, 2015, New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, New Orleans, LA
November 5, 2015, Hilton Santa Clara, Santa Clara, CA
December 1, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Network operators start seeing savings from NFV in the first year, according to a study by Affirmed Networks and ACG.
Hot Topics
AT&T U-verse TV Hits the Skids
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, 7/24/2015
Robbins Succeeds Chambers as Cisco Changes CEOs
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 7/27/2015
RJio to Launch Its Own 4G Devices Brand
Gagandeep Kaur, Contributing Editor, 7/27/2015
Qualcomm Wants FCC to Stay Out of LTE-U Fray
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 7/27/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
September 22, 2015
Media Begins With “Me”
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Basil Alwan, President of IP Routing & Transport at Alcatel-Lucent, discusses virtualization, cultural challenges, the capex crunch and more with Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders.
Guavus CEO Anukool Lakhina talks to Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders about the role of operational analytics in the communications services and networking sectors, particularly in relation to IoT.
Cats with Phones
Distract-a-Cat Click Here
The vibrate function makes for a useful cat distraction.