& cplSiteName &

AT&T Reveals Audacious SDN Plans

Mitch Wagner
3/5/2014
50%
50%

SANTA CLARA -- Open Networking Summit (ONS) 2014 -- I'm glad AT&T's senior technology VP John Donovan didn't give me a darned good thrashing after I challenged him about the company's software-defined networking (SDN) plans. He's a boxer and a hockey player. He could totally thrash me.

Donovan, senior executive vice president for technology and network operations at AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), described the operator's audacious SDN plans at an Open Networking Summit 2014 plenary Tuesday, adding more detail to the brief presentation he gave a week ago at Mobile World Congress. (See AT&T's Cloud Future Takes Shape.)

The carrier is committed to shifting to a more agile networking strategy, which it's calling User-Defined Network Cloud. "We intend to provide elastic network services, just like cloud provides elastic computing and storage services today," Donovan said. Customers will be able to self-provision networking services on the fly, as needed, just as they now do with compute services and storage from cloud providers.

AT&T's John Donovan
Getting ready to deliver a thrashing.
Getting ready to deliver a thrashing.

But it's a big job, and the company is just getting started. "There is much to do before our vision is realized," Donovan said.

To make that change, AT&T is changing everything about the company, including how the network is built, equipment and software, how the company buys, and its operations and culture.

IDC analyst Nav Chander questioned Donovan during the Q&A portion of the executive's presentation. Chander asked about disruption to AT&T corporate culture, potentially threatening AT&T employee jobs.

Donovan said AT&T executives see it as their responsibility to communicate the strategic change to employees and give employees the tools to make the change with AT&T. The company is working with Udacity and Georgia Tech to provide training, with a focus on certification rather than degrees.

"The objective is to leave no person behind who wants to make the journey and has the desire and fortitude to get it done," Donovan said.

AT&T is looking to recruit staff who want to work on this vision, Donovan said.

And now the part where I risked bodily harm.

I commandeered the microphone during Donovan's presentation, and suggested Donovan, who had been talking about plans for SDN, could perhaps appear a laggard, given that he was following in the wake of a presentation from NTT Communications Corp. (NYSE: NTT) that outlined the progress it's already making with SDN.

Or did I mishear Donovan's presentation?

Donovan said I did, indeed, mishear him. The company is making real progress, he said. For example, they've succeeded in abstracting the control plane from the backbone. "What I'm talking about is radically reshaping the WAN."

I wanted to hear more about AT&T's progress in transitioning to SDN, but they didn't agree to my request for a meeting.

I can't imagine why. I'm such a charming person.

I'll have more about what NTT had to say in a follow-up article.

Unless I'm unable to type following a thrashing from Donovan.

More about AT&T's network plans:

— Mitch Wagner, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profileFollow me on Facebook, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading.
Got a tip about SDN or NFV? Send it to mwagner@lightreading.com.

(8)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
yeh007
50%
50%
yeh007,
User Rank: Light Beer
6/9/2015 | 3:01:18 PM
Re: Self provisioning..
Can't agrees more. That is why, UK O2 and Telefonica Germany both have adopted SpatialBuzz crowd sourcing solution instead of traditional CEM solution (from southbound like Tektronix) to improve overall customer scarification and reduced call center calls dramatically. They are about to win another Tier-1 operator in the N. American region.
Mitch Wagner
50%
50%
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
3/17/2014 | 1:20:02 PM
Re: What about the bucks?
sam masud - Good point. As a recent Heavy Reading analyst report notes, billing systems represent a huge challenge for SDN/NFV
sam masud
50%
50%
sam masud,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/17/2014 | 11:46:33 AM
What about the bucks?
Will this present a challenge in billing subscribers? If so, how does AT&T plan to addres that? Just curious...
Mitch Wagner
50%
50%
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
3/7/2014 | 6:01:27 PM
Re: Self provisioning..
Customer happiness over self-service support will depend on how well the support work. Self-service can be an attractive alternative to spending an hour on the phone with tech support -- but not if it takes 90 minutes. 
mhhf1ve
50%
50%
mhhf1ve,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/6/2014 | 4:16:56 PM
Self provisioning..
Seems like the trend is for service providers of all kinds to offload as much customer support as they can to the customer.. In some cases, this is a welcome thing -- so customers don't have to wait a week and schedule a 4hr window of time to meet with a truck roll. But sometimes, this trend can be annoying like when you have to spend an hour of your own time trying to troubleshoot equipment that should "just work" when you plug it in.

 
Mitch Wagner
50%
50%
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
3/5/2014 | 11:54:12 PM
Re: Putting control in the hand of the customer
While AT&T and vendors were talking about self-provisioning, Microsoft demonstrated it. Service providers with long rollout plans my find when they arrive at their destination that the industry has moved on.
RitchBlasi
50%
50%
RitchBlasi,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/5/2014 | 2:26:54 PM
Re: Putting control in the hand of the customer
Self-service and the ability to quickly delpoy rev-gen features and services across parts of the network, for trials, and the entire network for commercialization.  I understand the biz-dev folks at the operators are closely linking up with the network and tech teams to understand when all this will happen.  But I think you have to realize that moving the traditional network to a virtual network is like trying to change a jet engine while the plane is in flight.  :-)
Carol Wilson
50%
50%
Carol Wilson,
User Rank: Blogger
3/5/2014 | 10:53:27 AM
Putting control in the hand of the customer
This is going to be THE theme going forward for the SDN-NFV transition. And yeah, easier said than done, with a whole lot of work to do within the network to make this happen. But the direction is on-target. I think we'll hear more and more service providers talk this way about SDN and NFV. It's not the capex and opex savings, it's not the service agility per se, it's the self-service capabilities that count. 
Light Readingís Upskill U is a FREE, interactive, online educational resource that delivers must-have education on themes that relate to the overall business transformation taking place in the communications industry.
LIVE NOW!
Friday, December 2, 1:00PM EST
The SDN Approach to IP & Optical Integration
Sterling Perrin, Senior Analyst, Heavy Reading
UPCOMING COURSE SCHEDULE
Friday, December 2, 1:00PM EST
The SDN Approach to IP & Optical Integration
Sterling Perrin, Senior Analyst, Heavy Reading
in association with:
From The Founder
Light Reading today starts a new voyage as part of a larger Enterprise.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP's Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Korn Ferry Consultant: How to Find, Cultivate & Be the Best Talent

11|30|16   |   4:10   |   (1) comment


Erin Callaghan, a managing consultant for Korn Ferry Futurestep, shares strategies for companies to improve how they recruit and for women to ensure they don't get lost in the pipeline.
LRTV Custom TV
We Can Make the World More Sustainable

11|29|16   |     |   (0) comments


GeSI is a global e-Sustainability Initiative organization bringing together 40 big multinational companies around the world. According to GeSI's report, information and communication technology can make the world more sustainable. Luis Neves, chairman of GeSI, shared with us his opinion at Ultra-broadband Forum (UBBF2016).
LRTV Custom TV
Finding a New Way to Engage Customers & Drive Revenue

11|29|16   |     |   (0) comments


Mobile revenues are declining. Digicel, a player in the Caribbean telecommunications/entertainment space, has found a new way to engage customers and drive revenue. John Quinn, CTO of Digicel, shared with us its story at Ultra-broadband Forum (UBBF2016)
LRTV Custom TV
Do You Really Need Gigabit Infrastructure?

11|29|16   |     |   (0) comments


Altibox is the biggest fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) player and the largest provider of video and TV in Norway. They started out with zero customers in 2002. Now they have close to half a million households and companies attached to their FTTH business. Nils Arne, CEO of Altibox shared with us their story and insight on 5G at Ultra-broadband Forum (UBBF2016).
LRTV Custom TV
BTís Openreach Strategy & Its Updates in 2016

11|29|16   |     |   (0) comments


A lot of developments at Openreach this year in terms of strategy and planned investments. Peter Bell, CIO of Openreach BT, shared with us the updates of Openreach at Ultra-broadband Forum (UBBF2016).
LRTV Custom TV
ITU: The Broadband Is Our Future

11|29|16   |     |   (0) comments


At Ultra-broadband Forum, Houlin Zhao, Secretary General of ITU, discussed how important it is for countries, companies and everybody to be working together to help to build the broadband and digital economies (UBBF2016).
LRTV Custom TV
Tackling 5G in Dallas

11|28|16   |     |   (0) comments


Here are our highlights of the 5G North America show in Dallas, Texas with Light Reading's Dan Jones.
LRTV Interviews
Cox Prepping for Virtualization Trials

11|14|16   |     |   (0) comments


In this video interview, Cox's Jeff Finkelstein discusses MSO's plans to test managed business services in early 2017 and tackle Distributed Access Architectures.
LRTV Custom TV
Drivers & Potential of NGP

11|11|16   |     |   (0) comments


ETSI has created an Industry Specification Group to work on Next Generation Protocols (NGP ISG), looking at evolving communications and networking protocols to provide the scale, security, mobility and ease of deployment required for the connected society of the 21st century. The NGP ISG will identify the requirements for next generation protocols and network ...
LRTV Custom TV
Huawei IP 2020 for Future Networks

11|11|16   |     |   (0) comments


Future Networks should satisfy many requirements such as high throughput, extremely low latency, flexible mobility, intrinsic security, networking automation, and so forth. The Chief Architect of Huawei Future Networks addresses a holistic solution, i.e., IP 2020, to achieve these requirements for various future life scenarios (e.g., autonomous driving, tactile ...
LRTV Custom TV
Digital Object Architecture

11|11|16   |     |   (0) comments


Digital Object Architecture provides a basic information infrastructure that can facilitate interoperability between or among different systems, processes, and other information resources, including different identity management systems. Digital objects are networked objects that are named by digital object identifiers and instantiated by an infrastructure service ...
LRTV Custom TV
BT's Openreach Has High Hopes for Long-Reach VDSL

11|11|16   |   06:04   |   (0) comments


Peter Bell, Network Portfolio CIO at BT's access business Openreach, talks about the operator's trial of a new broadband access technology called Long Reach VDSL.
Upcoming Live Events
December 6-8, 2016, The Westin Excelsior, Rome
May 16-17, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Hot Topics
AT&T Debuts DirecTV Now on New Video Platform
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 11/28/2016
Apple Seeds 5G? Seeks 'Multi-Gigabit' Chip Designer
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 11/30/2016
Altice Plans FTTH for Entire US Footprint
Iain Morris, News Editor, 11/30/2016
Altice FTTH Bill Could Hit Almost $9.6B in US
Iain Morris, News Editor, 12/1/2016
Samsung Bows to Investors, Considers Revamp
Iain Morris, News Editor, 11/29/2016
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Eyal Waldman, CEO of Mellanox Technologies, speaks to Steve Saunders, CEO of Light Reading, for an exclusive interview about the 100 GB cable challenge, cybersecurity and much more.
Join us for an in-depth interview between Steve Saunders of Light Reading and Alexis Black Bjorlin of Intel as they discuss the release of the company's Silicon Photonics platform, its performance, long-term prospects, customer expectations and much more.
Live Digital Audio

Even when there's a strong pipeline of female talent in the comms industry, it tends to leak all the way to the top. McKinsey & Company says women experience pipeline leakage at three primary points: being unable to enter, being stuck in the middle or being locked out of the top. Each pipeline pain point presents its own challenges, but also opportunities to stop the leak. Wireless operator Sprint is making a conscious effort to improve its own pipeline from new recruits to the C-suite, and it wants the rest of the industry to do the same. In this Women in Comms radio show, WiC Board Member and Sprint Vice President of Enterprise Sales Nelly Pitocco will give us her take on the industry's pipeline challenges. Pitocco, who joined Sprint in May and has spent 20 years in the comms industry, will also offer solutions, share how Sprint is tackling the challenge within its own organization and take your questions live on air.