Security Platforms/Tools

AT&T Getting Business VNFs to Market Faster

AT&T is already picking up the pace of its enterprise service rollouts based on its software-defined network and integrated cloud platform, as demonstrated by today's launch of AT&T FlexWare, the company said today. (See AT&T Launches Flexware as Enterprise VNF Platform.)

Coming less than three months after its last network functions on demand release in July, this announcement includes a new name for the overall capability but also a new smaller piece of customer premises gear and the addition of Palo Alto Networks Inc. security to AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s virtualized network functions catalog. In addition, the capabilities are now available in 150 countries and territories globally. (See AT&T Offers Network Functions On Demand... Sort Of.)

"It is really the enhanced services being enabled by our software-centric core network that lets us roll out things very quickly," says Roman Pacewicz, senior vice president, Offer Management and Service Integration, AT&T Business Solutions, in an interview. "Without that, it would be very difficult to have this fast cadence of rolling out capabilities."

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The new small form-factor device supports up to two VNFs and is designed for the smaller or remote office applications. It is shipped to the customer directly, they hook it up and enter a code, and the necessary software is downloaded and configured for the customer, he says. Like the existing CPE – Pacewicz calls it medium-sized – the small unit has LTE wireless as a control channel and backup.

"This allows us to serve smaller locations more cost-effectively," he says. "Say it's a small site and they need routing and firewall and that's it or router and [WAN optimization]. We can give that to them in a smaller form factor so it is lower cost but still get Flexware product which gives you more options."

The device is being manufactured to AT&T's specs by an unnamed company.

Adding Palo Alto's security as a VNF gives customers choice in the security realm, where AT&T previously offered Fortinet Inc. VNFs.

Customers can control their bandwidth usage through a portal and turn it up or down as needed, Pacewicz says.

The new product name, AT&T Flexware, replaces AT&T Network Functions on Demand and is more appropriate because it emphasizes the flexibility platform which gives customers control and the software-centric network that enables it, he comments.

The early interest from customers for AT&T Flexware is from customers operating in more than one market globally, Pacewicz adds, because of the simplicity and consistency the AT&T approach provides them.

— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading

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