NFV Strategies

AT&T Touts Its First Virtualized Functions

CHICAGO -- Big Telecom Event -- AT&T has been public with its bold proclamation that it will virtualize and software-control 75% of its network by 2020, transforming a total of 200 network functions. And, according to the man helping to lead the charge, it's well on the way to virtualizing the first 5% this year alone.

Keynoting here at BTE Tuesday, Andre Fuetsch, AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s senior vice president of architecture and design, touched on three of the functions the company has already virtualized of the 10 it will complete in 2015. (See BTE 2015: 5 Qs for AT&T's Andre Fuetsch and AT&T Touts SDN Push, Seeks Talent.)

Those functions include its virtualized evolved packet core, which Fuetsch said AT&T already has customers and traffic running on, and its SDN-controlled Network On-Demand service (now serving 100 cities), which lets businesses change Ethernet network services and speeds on the fly. AT&T also offers mobile call recording as a fully virtualized service that Fuetsch said has seen good traction with banks and brokerage houses. (See SDN Powers AT&T's Rapid On-Demand Expansion and AT&T's Cloud Future Takes Shape.)

The Domain Name Service (DNS), network analytics, data platforms and edge routers are all also on AT&T's short-term virtualization agenda.

We're Number One!
Andre Fuetsche, senior vice president of architecture and design at AT&T, tells BTE attendees how data traffic has increased 100,000% on its network in the past eight years and what AT&T is doing about it.
Andre Fuetsche, senior vice president of architecture and design at AT&T, tells BTE attendees how data traffic has increased 100,000% on its network in the past eight years and what AT&T is doing about it.

According to Fuetsch, the list of 200 functions AT&T is planning to virtualize doesn't include legacy technology like TDM voice, frame or ATM. AT&T is focusing on those functions with longevity in the network, covering a wide spectrum from customer premise equipment to the optical long-haul network to the mobile packet core and universal service platform. This year, he said, AT&T is laying the foundational building blocks for virtualization, but it plans to really ramp up in 2016. (See AT&T Seeks Help on Culture Change Issues.)

AT&T measures each function in three ways: What is the ability to virtualize it? What is the ability to control it with SDN? To what degree can the function be plugged into the company's existing operational management framework? There is no binary answer to any of the three, but all are important, Fuetsch noted, especially the third, which lets AT&T take advantage of automation in terms of how the functions are on-boarded, decommissioned, reused, controlled and operated.

Check out all the news and views from the 2015 Big Telecom Event at Light Reading's dedicated BTE show news channel.

Importantly, all of the network workloads run on AT&T's Integrated Cloud, which Fuetsch called the common cloud layer with the right reliability and security to run not only network workloads, but also enterprise workloads at the best cost points possible. This, he said, has been the key to AT&T's leadership in virtualization amongst its tier-one network operator competitors. (See AT&T Reveals Audacious SDN Plans.)

"The technology is moving, evolving and maturing," Fuetsch said. "There will be bumps along the way, but we're all in. We have over 2,000 engineers committed to the program to make it work."

— Sarah Thomas, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Editorial Operations Director, Light Reading

shakonroll 6/11/2015 | 5:25:18 AM
Re: Good to hear specifics Hi,

Is BTE2015 available on video/in slides like the NFV world congress? It would be great to watch these presentations.


Sarah Thomas 6/9/2015 | 2:26:47 PM
Re: Good to hear specifics Agreed! So many companies talk about virtualization and how they're moving in the direction of virtualizing everything, but I always want to know when and in what order of functions. AT&T is definitely the leader and first mover here. Hopefully others can learn from it.
cnwedit 6/9/2015 | 2:25:19 PM
Good to hear specifics I thought Andre Fuetsch did a good job of getting specific about what AT&T is doing and how - the 75% goal has been out there for a while but this was more detailed. 

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