Wednesday, March 5, 2014

ONS 2014 AT&T Keynote: SDN Innovations Drive Transformation

AT&T is on a mission to transform its networks, operations, business models and even culture by leveraging a new spirit of innovation, said John Donovan, Senior Executive Vice President for AT&T Technology and Network Operations, in a key note address at Open Networking Summit in Santa Clara, California.

A key theme driving this transformation is openness, said Donovan, and AT&T is moving aggressively to implement "the network of the future" - what it calls the User-Defined Network Cloud, a multi-service, multi-tenant platform where equipment is flexible.

AT&T's User-Defined Network Cloud is all about becoming fast, nimble and more customer-focused, said Donovan.  AT&T will take an evergreen approach, preferring to build a new network rather than overlays on the legacy infrastructure.  AT&T will look at new, non-traditional networking vendors, the academic community and the open source movement.

Some notes on Donovan's presentation:

  • AT&T has led the way through several technology transformation inflection points over the course of its long history.  This will be one of them.
  • Over time, all of AT&T's network capabilities will become cloud-centric workloads
  • Customers will have more control to adapt their applications in real time.
  • Applications will pivot from traditional networking to cloud models.
  • AT&T will pursue openness everywhere, including with its Domain 2.0 program, to encourage opinions and innovations.
  • AT&T has half a dozen "beach-head" projects underway in NFV.
  • At times, AT&T will develop its own solutions.  For instance, the control plane of the AT&T backbone is already a software-defined network that manages the 4 million routes of the footprint.
  • AT&T is actively recruiting people with skills in these areas.

One question after the keynote was "why are you really moving to SDN?"  Donovan's answer:  "Because no army can hold back an economic principle whose time has come"

The entire keynote has now been posted on YouTube.