& cplSiteName &

AT&T White Box a Disruptive Force

Carol Wilson
4/4/2017
50%
50%

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Open Networking Summit -- AT&T's venture into white box switches creates two different but equally disruptive trends for telecom's future. First, it's a clear signal to traditional telecom suppliers that the gig's up on closed system sales. As importantly, it signals major new service possibilities building on the per-packet visibility made possible by the open source P4 programming language used in the merchant silicon. (See AT&T Gives White Box Switches a Chance and AT&T Field Trials Multivendor White Box Switch.)

As explained by Andre Fuetsch, AT&T's CTO and president of AT&T Labs, in a keynote here and in a later interview, moving into the hardware realm wasn't that big a leap for AT&T, given its earlier involvement with devices for its FlexWare universal CPE and NetGate virtual private networks. The speed with which the company was able to pull together a white box switch it could operate in a field trial on its domestic network working with two relatively small and unfamiliar vendors -- Barefoot Networks and SnapRoute -- was impressive, even to Fuetsch.

"What is phenomenal for us and for me -- being in this business over 20 years -- I've never seen something come together so quickly as this project," Fuetsch tells Light Reading. "Working with the Barefoot team, we were able to take their new chip that just came out of the silicon fab and actually put that chip into working production in less than three months. You just don't see that with just a chip, there is a lot of supporting software. It was an amazing collaboration and hats off to all the companies we worked with to pull this together in record time."

The other key player, SnapRoute -- a company in which AT&T has invested -- created the network OS. "They took this very novel approach of building a hardware abstraction layer and running open source networking modules like BGP, OSPF that sit on top of this abstraction layer and can operate independent of what merchant silicon is underneath," he explains. In fact, AT&T actually built several different white boxes and involved another silicon vendor to be named later.

That this is a shot across the bow of AT&T's traditional vendors isn't something Fuetsch denies -- or even attempts to mitigate.

"Here's the big message for the OEMs -- it is really a call for them to open up their architectures, open up their software and their own hardware so they can participate," he says. "They are going to have to make a choice here -- do you want to be at the table or on the plate?"

Too often, Fuetsch explains, even in the software-defined networking era, getting the maximum performance from OEM gear still means buying an entire stack from one vendor, to include the operations and support systems.


Want to hear more about AT&T's virtualization strategies? Join us in Austin at the fourth annual Big Communications Event where AT&T Chief Strategy Officer John Donovan is a keynote speaker. There's still time to register and communications
service providers get in free.


What AT&T did with its white box deployment was ensure that it was tied into the Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP) to enable the per-packet telemetry to be leveraged to deliver what Fuetsch believes will be an explosion of new service possibilities, akin to what adding GPS to a smartphone enables today in ridesharing, mapping and directions, food delivery, etc.

And that's where this stuff gets exciting, he noted in the keynote address.

"This is more than just about lowering cost and achieving higher performance," Fuetsch told a packed house. "Frankly that's table stakes. This is really about removing barriers, removing layers, removing all that internal proprietary API stack that we've lived with these legacy IT systems, now we can bypass all of that and go straight to ONAP."

Utilizing the in-band network telemetry of P4 is "really remarkable -- this gives us, for the first time, unprecedented fine-grained visibility on a per-packet level," Fuetsch said. "If this were like a medical conference, I would be talking about how we're moving from x-rays to MRIs. that's how big a deal this is."

Instead of using common tools such as trace route or SNMP queries to determine packet performance -- both of which are inexact and not real-time -- AT&T can use the P4 language and the Barefoot solution in particular, "to actually learn about the network state all the way down to the packet level, and we can do that without impacting payload," Fuetsch says. "Once you have this visibility, you can enact control, and now you can really see maybe you want to treat certain traffic differently than other traffic."

That becomes especially important going forward with the rise of 5G and the Internet of Things supporting critical applications such as self-driving cars, remote surgery, virtual and augmented reality and much more.

"There are many new use cases enabled by getting this new level of visibility," he commented in the keynote. "This is our chance to get this right. Networking is going to change the world; it is more than just making SDN better this is about connecting lives and creating new opportunities."

And there will even be those opportunities for telecom OEMs, if they get on board, Fuetsch says.

Vendors "get what is going on here -- they all understand it is not a matter of if, it's a matter of when," he comments. "Things are going slowly on their side -- this is very disruptive to many of their business models."

But they can decide for themselves where -- and if -- they want to play, Fuetsch concludes.

— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading


CALLING ALL CLOUD, NFV AND SDN COMPANIES:
Make sure your company and services are listed free of charge at Virtuapedia, the comprehensive set of searchable databases covering the companies, products, industry organizations and people that are directly involved in defining and shaping the virtualization industry.


(0)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
From The Founder
NFV's promises of automation and virtualization are intriguing, but what really excites service providers is the massive amount of money they could save.
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
VMWare VP Brings Women Up With Her

8|16|17   |   6:49   |   (1) comment


It's an art and a science to make mentorship, inclusive leadership, diversity and promotion of high-potential women work, says Honore' LaBourdette, vice president of Global Market Development at VMWare.
LRTV Documentaries
5G Spectrum Wars – The Recap

8|15|17   |   2:22   |   (0) comments


Service provider 3 has filed a lawsuit against Ofcom over 5G spectrum auction in the UK.
LRTV Custom TV
Say What? Facebook Unleashes AI Anarchy – The Recap

8|7|17   |     |   (0) comments


A recap of the week's talking points on Light Reading's sister site, telecoms.com. Facebook AI programmers had a bit of a brain-fade as they allowed one of its AI applications to invent its ...
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Fujitsu's Women Band Together to Help Girls Do STEM

8|2|17   |   9:35   |   (1) comment


Supporting women both inside and outside of Fujitsu is a top priority of the telecom vendor. Yanbing Li, Fujitsu Network Communication's director of System Software Development & Delivery, shares why it's important, but why there's still a long road ahead.
LRTV Custom TV
If You're Not First, You're Last – The Recap

7|31|17   |   08:18   |   (1) comment


In case you missed it, Amazon's 1% stock increase helped Jeff Bezos dethrone Bill Gates as the richest man in the world. Also, Taiwanese electronics manufacturer
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
AT&T's Tech President Preps Workforce for the Future

7|26|17   |   5:47   |   (10) comments


AT&T is focused on the software-defined network of the future and is reskilling its workforce to get ready too, according to AT&T's President of Technology Development Melissa Arnoldi.
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.
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
Intel CEO Leaves Trump Biz Advisory Board
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 8/15/2017
Are Cord-Cutting's Days Numbered?
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading, 8/14/2017
Orchestration Startup UBiqube Pivots Away From NFV
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 8/15/2017
Verizon Video Woes Pile On
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 8/14/2017
WiCipedia: Dolly Babes, Manifesto Backlash & 'Brotastic' Failures
Eryn Leavens, Special Features & Copy Editor, 8/18/2017
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Animals with Phones
We Know a Tough Day When We See One Click Here
Live Digital Audio

Understanding the full experience of women in technology requires starting at the collegiate level (or sooner) and studying the technologies women are involved with, company cultures they're part of and personal experiences of individuals.

During this WiC radio show, we will talk with Nicole Engelbert, the director of Research & Analysis for Ovum Technology and a 23-year telecom industry veteran, about her experiences and perspectives on women in tech. Engelbert covers infrastructure, applications and industries for Ovum, but she is also involved in the research firm's higher education team and has helped colleges and universities globally leverage technology as a strategy for improving recruitment, retention and graduation performance.

She will share her unique insight into the collegiate level, where women pursuing engineering and STEM-related degrees is dwindling. Engelbert will also reveal new, original Ovum research on the topics of artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, security and augmented reality, as well as discuss what each of those technologies might mean for women in our field. As always, we'll also leave plenty of time to answer all your questions live on the air and chat board.