AT&T's first commercial offering using its new cloud network architecture is coming to Austin by the end of this year and will allow businesses to change Ethernet network services and speeds in near real time, the operator said Wednesday.
The software-defined "Network On Demand" upgrade for enterprise customers is the initial fruit of AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s User Defined Network Cloud (UDNC) project, which was first announced this February. AT&T claims in a statement that the service for its business customers is a "first in the US and possibly globally." (See AT&T's Cloud Future Takes Shape and AT&T Reveals Audacious SDN Plans.)
The first stage in the project is geared towards wireline enterprise customers. "This is really focused on wireline services, specifically, we're starting with Ethernet... I would expect that we'll look at wireless too," says Josh Goodell, VP of Network on Demand at AT&T.
Businesses with the Network on Demand Ethernet service will be able to change some network services and modify upload and download speeds via a self-service portal. This will mean that services will be changed almost instantaneously, "rather than the previous method of modifying, installing or replacing hardware to make network changes," AT&T notes.
The operator plans to layer on other services, such as allowing the user to provision Internet VPNs, over time. "We're looking at voice too," Goodell adds.
The Network on Demand system has been testing at the University of Texas at Austin since June. AT&T says it will offer the service to business customers in Austin by the end of 2014. The Network on Demand service will arrive in additional markets next year, and other UDNC-enabled services are coming in 2015 as well.
"We'll expand from Austin to five additional markets," Goodell tells Light Reading. "That'll be early in 2015." He expects to expand across AT&T's Ethernet footprint in the US soon after.
The eventual goal of the UDNC project is to have an extremely flexible wireline and wireless network architecture running on low-cost hardware with the functionality abstracted into software -- the classic software-defined network (SDN). "As customers of AT&T, you'll be able to design your own network," Marian Croak, AT&T's SVP of Domain 2.0 architecture and advanced services development, said in May. (See AT&T Working on Home-Grown SDN Controller for Later in 2014 .)
"What's really important is that we are creating a breakthrough capability that will dramatically simplify and streamline the network," Goodell notes.
AT&T is working with Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), Amdocs Ltd. (NYSE: DOX), Affirmed Networks Inc. , Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC), Fujitsu Ltd. (Tokyo: 6702; London: FUJ; OTC: FJTSY), Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) and Metaswitch Networks on the UDNC program, which is part of the carrier's larger Domain 2.0 supplier program to reduce network costs in its move to SDN and NFV. (See AlcaLu, Fujitsu Help Build AT&T's Cloud Network.)
AT&T has also done some of its own development work without third parties on this project. "There's a lot of internal capabilities that I'm tapping into," notes Goodell.
— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading