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AT&T's Chokshi: Why Carriers Need Disaggregation at the Edge

Kelsey Kusterer Ziser
7/29/2019

Service providers are looking to put SDN and white box hardware in their edge networks, especially at the IP layer, driven by 5G and other demands, according to Heavy Reading research.

At Light Reading's Network Virtualization & SDN Americas event in Dallas from September 17-19, Sterling Perrin, principal analyst of Optical Networking & Transport for Heavy Reading, will examine why edge network operators such as AT&T are "sending a clear message to their suppliers that access and edge routing should be disaggregated." 5G is one of the leading drivers for white box routers, but Perrin and his panelists will address additional use cases for disaggregated routers at the edge, in addition to the challenges and opportunities presented by this approach.

Rupesh Chokshi, assistant vice president of Edge Solutions Product Marketing Management for AT&T Business, leads project management and marketing within the edge solutions division for AT&T Business and will be joining Perrin's panel on "Revolutionizing the Edge with SDN." AT&T is well on its way toward the goal of virtualizing 75% of its network by 2020, and Chokshi says the service provider has focused on decoupling hardware and software to operate more efficiently and increase network control and flexibility.

"If we do the hardware/software decoupling, can we drive more efficiency but also have the ability to have a network operating system, and the control and flexibility it provides us and be able to innovate at the speed of software and not worry about hardware infrastructure all the time?" says Chokshi.

FlexWare, AT&T's uCPE platform, has been an integral part of its strategy to deliver virtual routers, virtual firewalls, SD-WAN capabilities, and other network functions on x86 boxes at the customer edge.

Chokshi says there are multiple use cases for deploying disaggregated routers at the edge, beyond well-known examples of providing customers with increased business agility, network visibility and performance. Delivering security and SD-WAN services, as well as supporting multi-access edge compute (MEC) and AT&T's Network Edge Compute (NEC) initiatives are just a few of those use cases.

AT&T is trying to stay head of data growth using a software-centric approach and decoupling hardware and software, says Chokshi.


Deep dive into real-world issues and virtualization deployment challenges with industry leaders. Join Light Reading at the annual Network Virtualization & SDN Americas event in Dallas, September 17-19. Register now for this exclusive opportunity to learn from and network with industry experts. Communications service providers get in free!


Chokshi says he's looking forward to attending the NV & SDN Americas event because it is "very technically oriented," will associate technology shifts to business drivers, give service providers an opportunity to gauge how they are maturing on the technology curve, and provide networking sessions for attendees to interact with industry experts.

Tom Yin, senior business development manager for Equinix; Sven Freudenfeld, CTO of Telecom Applications for Lanner; and Prayson Pate, CTO of Edge Cloud for ADVA will also be on the panel.

In addition to the edge panel, Chokshi will participate in a fireside chat with Heavy Reading's Sterling Perrin on the topic, "Has Virtualization Made Its Return Yet?" During the fireside chat, Chokshi plans to have an open dialogue around the pace at which virtualization is maturng in the industry.

"At AT&T we have over 200 petabytes of data traversing our network each day," says Chokshi. "How do you have a future-ready and efficient network infrastructure, but most of all an intelligent network? The topic of the fireside chat will focus on how virtualization is helping play a bigger role in macro trends with data, application awareness or software controls."

To hear from and network with Chokshi, as well as many other industry experts from AT&T Business, Verizon, Equinix, CenturyLink, Windstream and more, register for Light Reading's Networking Virtualization & SDN Americas event here. We look forward to seeing you in Dallas!

— Kelsey Kusterer Ziser, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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