5G and Beyond

AT&T Inks '8-Figure' Kubernetes & OpenStack 5G Deal With Mirantis

AT&T is building on a foundation of Kubernetes and OpenStack for its ambitious 5G rollout plans. As part of that deployment, it's signed an "eight-figure," multi-year deal with Mirantis to provide Kubernetes and OpenStack, the vendor said Thursday.

AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) had deployed 5G to early adopters in 12 US cities as of December 2018, with seven more coming by June 2019. To support that network, AT&T is deploying OpenStack on Kubernetes in more than 20 regions to date, with more to come, Ryan Van Wyk, AT&T associate VP network cloud software engineering, tells Light Reading. (See AT&T's 5G Switches On in 12 US Cities, but Only for 'Early Adopters'.)

AT&T needs Kubernetes and OpenStack to provide the flexibility and agility required for a cutting edge, continent-spanning 5G network. "There really isn't much of an alternative," Van Wyk says. "Your alternative is VMware. We've done the assessments, and VMware doesn't check boxes we need."

He adds, "We're progressive, we're on the bleeding edge. The 5G core and architecture we're implementing -- we're doing it for the first time in the world. When you're pushing the capabilities of the available software and you're in the front end of that, you need to innovate fast. We believe the communities around open source projects are the way to do that."

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AT&T's claim to be the first with 5G is disputed. Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) says it has also deployed 5G in four US cities. And other deployments are planned this year. (See 5G in the USA: A Post-CES Update.)

But AT&T is certainly ahead of the pack.

'Long-term contract on a massive scale'
AT&T is deploying its Kubernetes and OpenStack cloud on-premises rather than in a public cloud. "This is our 5G core," Van Wyk said. "The scale of what we're trying to do, the performance we need and the financials, make the private infrastructure make sense," he added.

The Kubernetes and OpenStack infrastructure will be used to deliver services using network functions virtualization (NFV).

Mirantis Inc. declined to provide specific terms of its AT&T contract, and AT&T wouldn't comment on it at all.

However, "it's a long-term contract on a massive scale," Adrian Ionel, Mirantis's CEO, co-founder and chairman, tells Light Reading. The initial term is three years. "It starts with a scale of thousands of nodes, and will go to over 10,000 nodes over this period and will only grow from there." The first-year deployment will be about 3,000 nodes, with a conservative estimate that it can reach 20,000 nodes or more within five years Ionel says.

For AT&T, the deal is a continuation of a long-term relationship with Mirantis. "We signed our first contract with AT&T in December, 2012. We provided core open source distros for AT&T AIC [AT&T Integrated Cloud], their previous generation platform. AT&T has tremendous experience with Mirantis open source software and mission critical support -- they trust us and rely on us," Ionel says. Mirantis at one time had more than 70 engineers on site co-developing with AT&T.

Mirantis is uniquely qualified to partner with AT&T on this deal because it has experience deploying Kubernetes on premises, says Boris Renski, Mirantis co-founder and CMO. Competitors such as Red Hat Inc. (NYSE: RHT) OpenShift specialize in deploying Kubernetes on public cloud, or some other infrastructure provided by third parties such as VMware.

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