& 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. 
From The Founder
Kicking off BCE 2017, Light Reading founder Steve Saunders lays blame for NFV's slow ramp-up and urges telecom to return to old-fashioned standards building and interoperability.
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
Cisco: Mentoring Critical to Attract & Retain Women

7|19|17   |   6:40   |   (1) comment


Liz Centoni, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco's Computing System Product Group, shares why mentoring in all its forms is important for women and what Cisco is doing that's made a difference for women in tech.
LRTV Custom TV
Gigabit LTE With Snapdragon 835

7|12|17   |     |   (1) comment


At an event in Wembley stadium, EE used its live network to demonstrate gigabit LTE using a Sony Xperia XZ Premium smartphone with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chip.
LRTV Custom TV
Implementing Machine Intelligence With Guavus

7|12|17   |     |   (0) comments


Guavus unites big data and machine intelligence, enabling many of the the largest service providers in the world to save money and drive measureable revenue. Learn how applying Machine Intelligence substantially reduces operational costs and in many cases can eliminate subscriber impact, meaning a better subscriber experience and higher NPS.
LRTV Custom TV
Unlocking Customer Experience Insights With Machine Intelligence

7|12|17   |     |   (0) comments


When used to analyze operational data and to drive operational decisions, machine intelligence reduces the number of tasks which require human intervention. Guavus invested in Machine Intelligence early. Learn about the difference between Machine Learning and Machine Intelligence.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Verizon VP Talks Network, Career Planning

7|12|17   |   4:49   |   (0) comments


Heidi Hemmer, vice president of Technology, Strategy & Planning at Verizon, shares how bold bets and the future of tech define her career.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Masergy's NFV Journey

7|11|17   |     |   (0) comments


Ray Watson, vice president of global technology at Masergy, discusses the advantages and challenges in entering the still-maturing NFV market for the past three years.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Mavenir on RCS Cloud Platform & Multi-ID

7|10|17   |     |   (0) comments


Guillaume Le Mener, head of marketing and corporate development at Mavenir, discussed RCS and the recent launch of Multi-ID, which supports T-Mobile's DIGITS, the revolutionary new technology that breaks down the limitation of one number per phone and one phone per number.
LRTV Custom TV
ADTRAN Executive Outlines Trends in Next-Generation 10-Gigabit Cable Networks

7|10|17   |     |   (0) comments


Hossam Salib, VP of Cable and Wireless Strategy at ADTRAN, outlines key trends as MSOs begin to deploy next-generation Gigabit and 10-Gigabit cable networks. In the interview, Hossam outlines the advantages of a Fiber Deep architecture, FTTH options including EPON and RFoG, and the importance of SDN and NFV in building next-generation high-bandwidth cable networks.
LRTV Interviews
Global Capacity: Bandwidth Demand Driving Ethernet Growth

7|6|17   |   6:37   |   (0) comments


At Light Reading's Big Communications Event in Austin, Texas, Global Capacity's VP of Marketing Mary Stanhope talks about how the demand for bandwidth is changing the way service providers deliver broadband services.
LRTV Interviews
Colt's Services Chief on Digital Delivery

7|5|17   |   16:12   |   (0) comments


Rogier Bronsgeest, the chief customer experience officer (chief CEO!) at Colt, discusses the way in which the service provider interacts with its customers these days and his aggressive net promoter score (NPS) targets.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
BT VP: Women Should Fill Security Talent Gap

7|5|17   |   6:00   |   (2) comments


By 2020 there will be six security jobs for every qualified worker, and Kate Kuehn, vice president of Security for BT in the Americas, says BT wants to encourage women to fill the shortage in jobs.
LRTV Interviews
Colt Sales Exec on Services Trends

7|4|17   |   12:59   |   (0) comments


Colt's sales director for enterprise, James Kershaw, sheds some light on the services currently in demand and how network upgrades are influencing customer demand.
Upcoming Live Events
September 28, 2017, Denver, CO
October 18, 2017, Colorado Convention Center - Denver, CO
November 1, 2017, The Royal Garden Hotel
November 1, 2017, The Montcalm Marble Arch
November 2, 2017, 8 Northumberland Avenue, London, UK
November 30, 2017, The Westin Times Square
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
With the mobile ecosystem becoming increasingly vulnerable to security threats, AdaptiveMobile has laid out some of the key considerations for the wireless community.
Hot Topics
Mobile to Power Online Video Consumption – Zenith
Aditya Kishore, Practice Leader, Video Transformation, Telco Transformation, 7/19/2017
BBC Head: We Must Reinvent Broadcasting for a New Generation
Aditya Kishore, Practice Leader, Video Transformation, Telco Transformation, 7/21/2017
NFV, SDN, Big Data – It's All About Automation
Craig Matsumoto, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading, 7/21/2017
Qualcomm Takes Q3 Pummeling From Apple
Iain Morris, News Editor, 7/20/2017
Brocade, Broadcom Merger in Doubt
Iain Morris, News Editor, 7/19/2017
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Following a recent board meeting, the New IP Agency (NIA) has a new strategy to help accelerate the adoption of NFV capabilities, explains the Agency's Founder and Secretary, Steve Saunders.
One of the nice bits of my job (other than the teeny tiny salary, obviously) is that I get to pick and choose who I interview for this slot on the Light Reading home ...
Animals with Phones
Live Digital Audio

Playing it safe can only get you so far. Sometimes the biggest bets have the biggest payouts, and that is true in your career as well. For this radio show, Caroline Chan, general manager of the 5G Infrastructure Division of the Network Platform Group at Intel, will share her own personal story of how she successfully took big bets to build a successful career, as well as offer advice on how you can do the same. We’ll cover everything from how to overcome fear and manage risk, how to be prepared for where technology is going in the future and how to structure your career in a way to ensure you keep progressing. Chan, a seasoned telecom veteran and effective risk taker herself, will also leave plenty of time to answer all your questions live on the air.