In a surprising move that underscores both the importance of software and network operators' growing interest in controlling their own destiny, AT&T today announced that it is buying Brocade's Vyatta operating system and software for an undisclosed sum. (See AT&T Buys Brocade's Vyatta Software.)
The AT&T deal, which comes ahead of Broadcom's acquisition of most of Brocade, is expected to close fairly quickly. (See Broadcom Buys Brocade for $5.9B, Will Ditch Ruckus & IP Biz.)
AT&T will take ownership of the Vyatta assets including the vRouter product line and other virtual network functions, and will hire Brocade employees associated with its development, currently located primarily in California and the UK, according to today's release.
The Brocade acquisition will expand on AT&T's earlier work to develop its own white boxes and is a further indication that the network operator means business when it insists on a multivendor approach in the virtualization era: AT&T is determined to not be held hostage to equipment manufacturers that don't open up their network architectures and fully decouple software and hardware for interoperability. (See AT&T White Box a Disruptive Force.)
Adding the Vyatta assets will also help AT&T achieve its goal of virtualizing (i.e., putting under software control) 55% of its network functions this year and 75% of all functions by 2020. According to AT&T's press release, the Vyatta technology will broaden its ability to offer cloud-based VNFs, starting with the SD-WAN service it previously announced with VeloCloud. (See AT&T Joins SD-WAN Fray.)
AT&T is hardly alone in pushing its own white box strategy, as competitors such as Orange and Verizon are doing the same thing, although they are working with partner vendors in a more traditional way: AT&T has gone a step farther here by acquiring the software. (See Orange Kicks Off 'Universal CPE' Trials and Verizon Readies Its Universal CPE.)
The industry may see similar software acquisitions going forward as there is greater urgency to push forward with network transformation. It's a strategy that CenturyLink is already using, acquiring Active Broadband for its software talent and then using those skills to streamline and speed up its internal NFV/SDN work. (See CenturyLink: Kill Complexity to Speed NFV and CenturyLink's ABN Buy Is Software Harbinger.)
For Vyatta, which became part of Brocade in late 2012, transferring to AT&T is both an ending and the assurance of relevance going forward. At its introduction, Vyatta was considered a groundbreaking effort and it retained industry interest even to this point, having been rumored to be under consideration as a white box component at multiple network operators. This obviously ends those options. (See Brocade Unveils Open Carrier Platform for SDN, NFV and Brocade Buys Vyatta for Software Routing Smarts.)
— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading
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