& cplSiteName &

AT&T Has High Hopes for SDN

Ray Le Maistre
11/6/2012
50%
50%

NEW YORK -- Ethernet Expo 2012 -- The introduction of software-defined networking (SDN) capabilities into telco networks has the potential to increase efficiency and innovation across the communications industry ecosystem, but there's a lot of work to be done yet to figure out whether SDN strategies will ultimately pay off for carriers.

That's the key takeaway from a presentation given here Tuesday morning by Margaret Chiosi, executive director, optics and Ethernet development, at AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), one of the founders of the Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) that was formed recently under the auspices of the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) . (See Carriers Collaborate on Network of the Future.)

She said the general concept of a separate data and control plane, which is central to SDN architectures, has been around for some time and that the current hype around the use of more generic physical infrastructure and virtualized applications was now bringing the idea more out into the open. "I'm happy with the marketing hype because now the industry has woken up," she stated.

Now, though, there's plenty to be done. While the Open Networking Foundation has already developed a protocol, OpenFlow, for the interface between the data and control planes that is being widely adopted, there's plenty of other Application Programing Interface (API) work to be done, with the MEF , an industry organization in which Chiosi is very active, turning its attentions to API specifications that will enable cloud services and SDN architectures.

There's also the potential of applications virtualization, but that's not a scenario that can be applied across the board. "I'm not sure every device in the network can be virtualized, though there are a lot of candidates in the wired and wireless worlds," stated the AT&T exec.

As for the commercial off-the-shelf hardware that might be the data bedrock of any software-defined network, Chiosi noted, not surprisingly, that the carriers were keen on deploying more generic hardware, but "the vendors, not so much."

The current model of having dedicated hardware for each application is one that makes it hard for new entrants to enter the market and one that also stifles innovation. "We want [vendors] to focus on the software and be more innovative, enable us to shrink and grow our network requirements as we need them. Currently we have to design our networks for the maximum, the peak load," and that's not efficient, noted the AT&T exec.

But there are plenty of challenges to overcome before SDN architectures can be considered for carrier networks -- multiple applications will need to be able to coexist on a single server, for example -- and the key metric will be simplicity. "There's no point in moving to SDN if it's just as complex as what we have now," she stated.

That could be the toughest task of all.

— Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading

(2)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Sultan Bou Hamdan
50%
50%
Sultan Bou Hamdan,
User Rank: Light Beer
5/16/2013 | 7:54:37 PM
re: AT&T Has High Hopes for SDN
I agree with Margaret to the fact that a lot of work to be done on the API but the network readiness for open protocol and the strategic plan to virtualize the applications and services should start from today.
joanengebretson
50%
50%
joanengebretson,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:17:59 PM
re: AT&T Has High Hopes for SDN


Interesting post. Thanks. It's always good to get the service provider take on new technologies, which are invariably hyped by the vendors.


Did she say anything about what AT&T sees as the most compelling applications for SDN?

Featured Video
From The Founder
Light Reading founder Steve Saunders grills Cisco's Roland Acra on how he's bringing automation to life inside the data center.
Flash Poll
Upcoming Live Events
March 20-22, 2018, Denver Marriott Tech Center
March 22, 2018, Denver, Colorado | Denver Marriott Tech Center
April 4, 2018, The Westin Dallas Downtown, Dallas
May 14-16, 2018, Austin Convention Center
All Upcoming Live Events
Hot Topics
MWC 2018 Threatens to Be 5G New Radio Bore
Iain Morris, News Editor, 1/10/2018
Sprint Says No to mmWave, Yes to Mobile 5G
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 1/11/2018
Altice USA Embraces Home-Alone Strategy
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading, 1/11/2018
Huawei, ZTE Face US Federal Ban
Iain Morris, News Editor, 1/15/2018
Trump Says Foxconn Will Make iPhones in US
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 1/15/2018
Animals with Phones
Live Digital Audio

A CSP's digital transformation involves so much more than technology. Crucial and often most challenging is the cultural transformation that goes along with it. As Sigma's Chief Technology Officer, Catherine Michel has extensive experience with technology as she leads the company's entire product portfolio and strategy. But she's also no stranger to merging technology and culture, having taken a company Tribold from inception to acquisition (by Sigma in 2013), and she continues to advise service providers on how to drive their own transformations. This impressive female leader and vocal advocate for other women in the industry will join Women in Comms for a live radio show to discuss all things digital transformation, including the cultural transformation that goes along with it.

Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed