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Is DT About to Blow Our SDN Socks Off?

Ray Le Maistre

Carrier SDN and NFV have been major buzzwords for the past few years, generating a great deal of head-scratching, strategizing and hot air blowing.

Now it's time for the telco vanguard to step up a gear and forge a path from PowerPoints and proofs of concept to group-wide deployment strategies and investments. I get the feeling that's about to happen at Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT), which has undoubtedly been one of the key players in the development of next-generation, virtualized wide area communications networking concepts and tangible projects during the past few years.

My gut tells me we'll hear about DT's plans during its Capital Markets meeting, which takes place on Thursday, February 26 and Friday, February 27 at its headquarters in Bonn, Germany. And my perhaps far too noisy gut is also telling me that my SDN socks might be blown off.

The German giant has long been a focus for attention from the SDN community because of TeraStream, the next-generation, all-IP network model that the operator has been introducing in some of its European markets, particularly Croatia. (See Deutsche Telekom: A Software-Defined Operator, Adtran: We're In at TeraStream and DT Teams With A10 for NFV Advance.)

Now it's time to take TeraStream to the next level -- and I think that's what we're going to hear about on Thursday, hopefully from CEO Timotheus Höttges and a number of his colleagues.

TeraStream has been underway for a few years as Deutsche Telekom, in line with its Tier 1 peers around the world, figure out how they can develop networks that are cheaper and easier to run and "fit for purpose" -- that is, networks that:

  • have a high degree of automation
  • can be programmed using software
  • are capable of responding in near real-time to customer demands and security challenges
  • can handle the unfathomable pressures of massive volumes of streaming 4K/ultra HD high-definition video and data (cloud, IoT and so on) that are going to be traversing communications networks in the coming years
  • can deliver new revenue-generating opportunities.

I expect to hear DT executives talk during the next few days about how they are taking what they have learned so far from TeraStream and applying it to their broad corporate strategy.

For more NFV-related coverage and insights, check out our dedicated NFV content channel here on Light Reading.

How will that manifest itself? It could come in the form of a medium-term, wide-ranging network and IT overhaul plan that will cost billions but keep DT in business. It could come in the form of a new corporate entity set up to take TeraStream to that next level and innovate and advance DT's networks, systems and capabilities from outside the corporate rump.

The only thing that would come as a surprise to me during the next few days is if DT does not outline a bold new networking and IT strategy that has software-defined networking, network functions virtualization and a cloud/web-scale at its core.

I hope I won't be surprised, and I don't expect to be. Whatever the DT executive team announces during the next few days will have an impact on the whole communications networking ecosystem. Let's hope it involves a plan that can be the catalyst for more strategic decisions that will move our industry forward.

That's not to say that DT has the answers or that it's the one company that everyone is waiting to lead the way. Far from it: The likes of AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and NTT Group (NYSE: NTT), to name just two, are also helping to shape the future of the telecom industry. (See AT&T Touts SDN Push, Seeks Talent and NTT Shares Critical SDN Lessons.)

But TeraStream is one of those developments that has captured the attention of everyone who has been trying to figure out what comes next: It's special.

So it's over to you, Tim. Please blow my SDN socks off.

— Ray Le Maistre, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

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User Rank: Light Beer
2/27/2015 | 5:38:29 PM
Re: I have new socks for the occasion
I watched the presentation on Thursday. I'm glad they decided go for for TeraStream. There wasn't much detailed information though (understandable). Did you get any more info? Will you cover this later?
User Rank: Lightning
2/26/2015 | 9:30:44 PM
Re: I have new socks for the occasion
I see no reason why DT would not be producing and working with SDN (such a broad term) in their internal network.  DT is very involved in open networking, and specifically pushing/helping getting PoC code done, for example:

DT has been active with Homenet and we (NetDEF) have presented functional demos at IETF of work done in concert with DT http://www.ietf.org/mail-archive/web/homenet/current/msg03791.html 
[email protected],
User Rank: Blogger
2/25/2015 | 12:33:28 PM
Re: I have new socks for the occasion
TeraStream is well established in satellite operations so in its earluiest guise, its Version 1, it is a very real thing. 

Bringing Germand and T-Systems into the equation? That wold blow more off than just my socks. 

(Actually, I retract that.... I have only one, albeit very colorful, shirt and I don't want it blown off...)
User Rank: Light Beer
2/25/2015 | 11:55:36 AM
Re: I have new socks for the occasion
The important thing at this point, as you indicate, is to see them move beyond the Power Point stage to something that is real-world. I don't think they have to have the definitive strategy but something that lets them get started. 

Both AT&T and NTT, as well as companies such as Masergy, started with internally developed software-defined networking to solve specific business problems and I think that is what has given them an edge. That's what I'd like to see from DT as well. 
User Rank: Lightning
2/25/2015 | 11:43:04 AM
DT's Axel Clauberg on NEW IP radio: March 10
Heads up that I'm interviewing Axel Clauberg from DT on The New IP Tune in Tuesday Radio Show on March 10th at 2pm! You can register here to listen and he'll be taking listener questions: Shaping the New IP
User Rank: Blogger
2/25/2015 | 10:54:31 AM
CMD presentations
Claudia Nemat is talking about DT's new 'superior production model' tomorrow at about 6.00pm CET. Sounds like that particular Capital Markets Day presentation could be key in this regard. 
[email protected],
User Rank: Blogger
2/25/2015 | 10:35:38 AM
I have new socks for the occasion
They are nor programmable socks, but....

I have high hopes for DT delivering a fantastic SDN/NFV vision on Thursday. I think it is well placed to do so.

BUt like I mentioned, whatever it is (or not!) that doesn't mean DT has the RIGHT strategy. Its track record, though, suggests it has a pretty good idea where it's heading though.
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