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Why AT&T's latest open source contribution mattersWhy AT&T's latest open source contribution matters

AT&T has shared its distributed router specifications with the Open Compute Project and a leading disruptive data networking startup is flagging its support for the model.

September 30, 2019

5 Min Read
Why AT&T's latest open source contribution matters

AT&T has made a lot of contributions to the open networking community during the past few years, but last week's donation has "milestone" written all over it.

The operator announced Friday it had submitted its specifications for a distributed disaggregated chassis (DDC), based on Broadcom's Jericho2 processors, to the Open Compute Project (OCP), the open source body launched by Facebook, Intel and Rackspace in 2011 and which started focusing on how to reduce the cost of networking hardware in 2013.

In its press release about the DDC specifications, the operator makes it very clear how important this is to its network strategy:

AT&T plans to apply the Jericho2 DDC design to the provider edge (PE) and core routers that comprise our global IP Common Backbone (CBB) -- our core network that carries all of our IP traffic. Additionally, the Jericho2 chips have been optimized for 400 gigabits per second interfaces -- a key capability as AT&T updates its network to support 400G in the 5G era. "The release of our DDC specifications to the OCP takes our white box strategy to the next level," said Chris Rice, SVP of Network Infrastructure and Cloud at AT&T. "We're entering an era where 100G simply can't handle all of the new demands on our network. Designing a class of routers that can operate at 400G is critical to supporting the massive bandwidth demands that will come with 5G and fiber-based broadband services. We're confident these specifications will set an industry standard for DDC white box architecture that other service providers will adopt and embrace."

In what was clearly a coordinated move (and as part of its ongoing efforts to muscle its way into the carrier routing club dominated by the likes of Cisco, Nokia and Juniper), disruptive router startup DriveNets hitched its R&D efforts to the DDC model.

The vendor announced late last week that its Network Cloud routing software stack is "the first solution on the market that supports the distributed disaggregated chassis model" submitted to the OCP.

DriveNets has been banging on for months about how its stack can support 400G-per-port routing and be scaled up to a whopping 768 Tbit/s.

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