AT&T is at 63 percent of its goal to bring 75 percent of its networks under SDN control by 2020, according to AT&T CTO Andre Fuetsch.
Speaking with SDxCentral, Fuetsch said, “63 percent represents how we’ve enabled our networking capabilities. Now, we’re in the process of migrating our traffic to take advantage of those capabilities.”
He said that the migration of traffic will be correlated with how many of AT&T’s customers move to 5G. Reflecting on the company’s virtualization progress to date, Fuetsch said, “Part of this journey was a learning experience to find out what works well and what doesn’t. We found even with our own internal clouds we made a lot of changes because some of our internal assumptions weren’t right.” He added that the company has learned to “fail fast and recover quickly.”
Aside from being CTO at AT&T, Fuetsch also wears another hat: chairman of the board of directors for the Open Networking Foundation (ONF), which is holding an event December 4-6, in Santa Clara, California.
Fuetsch will be giving the opening keynote at the upcoming ONF Connect event where he’ll talk about the ONF’s effort to create a better supply chain for operators. And he’ll also talk specifically about what AT&T is doing with the ONF.
In March, the ONF announced a new strategic plan jointly developed with its operator board members to create a vendor supply chain that can quickly advance the operators’ network virtualization agendas. The ONF strategic plan includes modular reference designs and exemplar platforms.
Timon Sloane, VP of marketing with the ONF, explained in March that the strategic plan was necessary because the traditional telco vendors were not helping operators transform their networks with more software at the pace the operators desired.
Typically, telco vendors have been original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). “If you now look at the vendors of ONF you’ll see they’re more ODMs [original design manufacturers],” Fuetsch said. “This is because the service providers that are part of ONF have much deeper software skills that can work directly with an ODM.”
The ONF Connect sponsors and reference design participants (both ODMs and OEMs) are Adtran, Ciena, Dell-EMC, Edgecore Networks, Samsung, Intel, Radisys, Juniper, Delta, and Barefoot Networks.
Fuetsch said that he thinks most service providers will eventually develop the necessary software skills to build their products and services internally, but to do that they’ll have to be engaged with organizations like ONF.
“Typically, the operator community was at the mercy of the vendors and the supply chain,” said Fuetsch. “Instead, we’re taking a proactive stance and developing those solutions ourselves, doing it in partnership with some of these vendors … with the sole focus on very purpose-built, open source software to build the next generation of networks.”
During the ONF Connect conference the group plans to “release a lot of new updates to our reference designs, and I think that should be attractive to folks, the existing membership but also to those who have been thinking of joining ONF,” said Fuetsch.
The conference will also focus on ONF software projects, including the Central Office Rearchitected as a Data Center (CORD), Virtual OLT Hardware Abstraction (VOLTHA), Stratum, and the SDN Enabled Broadband Access Program (SEBA).
Fuetsch said that SEBA is important for 5G. It will be necessary to transfer the higher-speed traffic “off the air to the internet,” he said. This will involve lots of backhauling. “SDN and cloudification allows us to disaggregate those access technologies and take advantage of white box and open source on top,” he said. “SEBA is about doing this in a way that is access independent, whether FTTH (fiber-to-the-home), wirelines, wireless access point, or cellular RAN connection; any type of input.”
Speaking of access technologies, apparently Comcast has been very involved with the ONF on access work. Rob Howald, vice president of network architecture at Comcast, will present a keynote at the upcoming conference and hopefully provide some details about the company’s open source software work.