Light Reading

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. 
Flash Poll
From The Founder
Network architects aiming to upgrade their networks to support agile, open, virtualized services in the 21st century need to consider new criteria when choosing between technology suppliers.
Live Streaming Video
BTE 2015 Sponsor Keynote: HP
Dr. Prodip Sen, CTO, Network Functions Virtualization, HP
LRTV Custom TV
Red Hat Demo

7|2|15   |   10:53   |   (0) comments


Red Hat's Nicolas Lemieux demonstrates how Red Hat is driving innovation through open source communities.
LRTV Custom TV
Red Hat's Approach to OpenStack Adoption

7|2|15   |   5:17   |   (0) comments


Red Hat's Radhesh Balakrishnan outlines his company's open source strategy for both enterprises and telcos.
LRTV Custom TV
The New IP Goes Mobile With vEPC

7|2|15   |   1:12   |   (0) comments


Heavy Reading's Gabriel Brown discusses results of a Light Reading survey sponsored by Brocade that shows a clear commitment by mobile operators to move quickly to virtual EPC deployment.
LRTV Custom TV
Making Business Sense of SDN

7|2|15   |   1:42   |   (0) comments


Results of a Brocade-sponsored survey show that CSPs have a clear sense of SDN use cases but are wrestling with the business case. Sterling Perrin of Heavy Reading looks behind the numbers.
LRTV Custom TV
NFV Will Be Here Sooner Than You Think

7|2|15   |   2:22   |   (0) comments


Forget the usual ten-year cycle for new technologies – NFV will be a core part of CSP networks in five years, based on results of a Brocade-sponsored survey, says Heavy Reading's Caroline Chappell.
LRTV Custom TV
The New IP Gains Traction With CSPs

7|2|15   |   1:42   |   (0) comments


Roz Roseboro of Heavy Reading analyzes results of a Light Reading survey sponsored by Brocade showing that CSPs are getting serious about making the transition to the New IP era.
LRTV Custom TV
It's (Real) Time for Analytics

7|2|15   |   1:42   |   (0) comments


Heavy Reading's Jim Hodges looks at how CSPs say they plan to use analytics to deploy new services in real time as part of The New IP, based on results of a survey sponsored by Brocade.
LRTV Documentaries
IoT in Action

6|30|15   |   1:39   |   (8) comments


Two co-workers discuss the benefits of IoT technology.
LRTV Interviews
Ericsson Opens Up on OPNFV

6|30|15   |   14:16   |   (3) comments


Martin Bäckström, VP and head of industry area Datacom at Ericsson, talks to Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders about the emergence of OPNFV, the importance of standards and Ericsson's OPNFV plans.
LRTV Custom TV
NetNumber Founder Discusses NFV/SDN Impact on SP Networks

6|26|15   |   4:15   |   (0) comments


NetNumber Founder Doug Ranalli examines why SPs need a new network infrastructure for service agility. While NFV and SDN are the tools, the old ways of thinking about signaling control are inhibitors. Doug provides his recommendations.
LRTV Custom TV
Orchestrating NFV vCPE Services Across Multivendor Networks

6|26|15   |   5:46   |   (0) comments


Nirav Modi provides an overview of vCPE, the fastest-growing NFV use case, showing how Cyan's Blue Planet orchestrates vCPE services across a multivendor infrastructure to rapidly deliver new managed services for business customers.
LRTV Custom TV
ZTE at LTE Summit Amsterdam 2015

6|26|15   |     |   (0) comments


As one of the leading global telecommunications providers, ZTE presented its cutting-edge technology at LTE World Summit 2015 in Amsterdam. On display at ZTE's booth were the latest R&D achievements in wireless, 5G development, HetNet, deep convergence of FDD and TDD, and RCS/IMD/iSDN/vCN.
Upcoming Live Events
September 16-17, 2015, The Westin Galleria Dallas, Dallas, TX
September 29-30, 2015, The Westin Grand Müchen, Munich, Germany
October 6, 2015, The Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
October 6, 2015, Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
October 14-15, 2015, New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, New Orleans, LA
November 5, 2015, Hilton Santa Clara, Santa Clara, CA
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Hot Topics
Who's Feeding Fiber to LinkNYC Hotspots?
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 6/29/2015
What's a Gigabit Good For?
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 7/1/2015
Colt to Jettison Ailing IT Business
Iain Morris, News Editor, 6/30/2015
Eurobites: Activist Investor Takes Stake in AlcaLu
Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, 6/30/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Casa Systems has been going from strength to strength over the last couple of years. In 2013, it became the first vendor to ship an integrated CCAP device -- the ...
Cedrik Neike, SVP of Global Service Provider, Service Delivery, at Cisco, talks to Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders about solving service provider customer problems in a virtualized, DevOps world, including multivendor support and the future of network procurement.
Cats with Phones