ESDN: AT&T Calls for SDN APIs Now

AT&T says SDN is the key technology to take the carrier to a next-gen network, but that's why it's so important it gets APIs ASAP.

Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms

October 2, 2013

2 Min Read
ESDN: AT&T Calls for SDN APIs Now

NEW YORK — Ethernet & SDN Expo — AT&T is developing application programming interface (API) specifications for software defined networking (SDN), and network functions virtualization (NFV) that will use a common language, but won't necessarily be open, Margaret Chiosi, distinguished network architecture and NFV Forum representative told the Ethernet and SDN Expo keynote crowd today.

At the same time, AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) is pursuing open-source APIs, realizing these may be available in advance of any industry standards, she said. Because SDN and NFV are considered the key technologies to build a truly next-generation network, AT&T will adopt whichever approach enables APIs as soon as possible.

"We need APIs today that are common," Chiosi added. "If standards are taking too long, maybe the open-source community is the way to go. So, both will be pursued."

Figure 1: Chiosi Chat Margaret Chiosi, distinguished network architect at AT&T and Network Functions Virtualization Forum representative, talks SDN and NFV to the ESDN crowd. Margaret Chiosi, distinguished network architect at AT&T and Network Functions Virtualization Forum representative, talks SDN and NFV to the ESDN crowd.

AT&T's API specifications will enable an SDN architecture that is not necessarily open, but that uses a common language, and is programmable, centralized, agile, and cost effective. In fact, the reason AT&T is so keen on SDN at all is that it enables the carrier to make money faster. "We don’t try new technologies for the sake of new technologies," Chiosi quipped.

Chiosi said AT&T also needs APIs related to both service abstractions and network abstractions, for SDN controllers, both northbound and southbound, and for the all-important MANO [management and organization] layer for NFV.

Right now, there are too many standards, Chiosi said. AT&T's goal is to be common, rather than open or commoditized, but to be able to differentiate. "You need a common language to define an information data model," she explained.

Chiosi also addressed the Ethernet Expo crowd at last year's show, so she used Wednesday's presentation to check up on her assertions from last year. While AT&T's priorities remain the same, there is a lot more urgency to element SDN sooner rather than later, but, she said, the industry is still a long ways from having a clear view of what the equipment and interfaces for SDN will look like. (See AT&T Has High Hopes for SDN.)

"It's too early," Chiosi admitted. "We are all over the place. There's lots of good debate and ideas, but no convergence yet."

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

About the Author(s)

Sarah Thomas

Director, Women in Comms

Sarah Thomas's love affair with communications began in 2003 when she bought her first cellphone, a pink RAZR, which she duly "bedazzled" with the help of superglue and her dad.

She joined the editorial staff at Light Reading in 2010 and has been covering mobile technologies ever since. Sarah got her start covering telecom in 2007 at Telephony, later Connected Planet, may it rest in peace. Her non-telecom work experience includes a brief foray into public relations at Fleishman-Hillard (her cussin' upset the clients) and a hodge-podge of internships, including spells at Ingram's (Kansas City's business magazine), American Spa magazine (where she was Chief Hot-Tub Correspondent), and the tweens' quiz bible, QuizFest, in NYC.

As Editorial Operations Director, a role she took on in January 2015, Sarah is responsible for the day-to-day management of the non-news content elements on Light Reading.

Sarah received her Bachelor's in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She lives in Chicago with her 3DTV, her iPad and a drawer full of smartphone cords.

Away from the world of telecom journalism, Sarah likes to dabble in monster truck racing, becoming part of Team Bigfoot in 2009.

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