AT&T has spent this year deploying its first software defined networking (SDN) service — switched Ethernet on Demand.
The carrier began the project in January 2015 and within six months had a beta customer up and running, said Josh Goodell, VP of AT&T’s Network on Demand initiative, at the GEN15 conference in Dallas Tuesday. By late spring, the service was being offered to enterprise customers in 170 markets in AT&T’s 21-state territory.
“Cisco was big TDM/Sonet provider to us,” said Goodell. “They weren’t initially in the Ethernet world. One reason they bought Tail-f was they knew we’ve been interested in it. As things evolve and we extend to other services, I expect Cisco will remain a partner.”
AT&T has been very vocal about applying SDN and network functions virtualization (NFV) within its own network cloud. And the company is pushing Network on Demand, in which it uses SDN and NFV to provision business services much faster via self-service portals.
Goodell said, “a lot of the same brain trust” within AT&T is working on Domain 2.0 and Network on Demand. For switched Ethernet on Demand, “21 VP organizations within AT&T have come together to deliver the service,” he said. The carrier has automated about 20 management steps for the Ethernet product.
Customers for Ethernet on Demand span from very large to very small. A large school district, for example, is using it to turn up and turn off services based on the school calendar. An oil and gas company started with two locations and expanded to 10 locations by using the self-service portal to order more endpoints. And IBM is using it for interconnection between its data centers, primarily for redundancy.
Next Virtual Service
AT&T is close to rolling out its next virtualization service by the end of the year, which will be managed Internet on Demand. “We’re literally in testing right now,” said Goodell. “It’s a point solution as opposed to a network solution. It’s Layer 3. You will have a combination of SDN and NFV in play. We’re virtualizing the CPE and also virtualizing the provider edge.”
The company is moving forward with virtualization because it recognizes the big trends of open and software-defined, and also because of incredible increases in network traffic, said John Medamama, AT&T’s VP of packet-optical networks, during his GEN15 keynote.
“Our mobile Internet has seen 100,000 percent growth in traffic from 2007 to 2014 and is going to grow another 10x by 2020,” said Medamama. “The traditional model where we all deployed a lot of hardware-centric networks — that model is not going to sustain. We need to move to a software-centric model.”
“We started with Ethernet because it’s the core layer,” Goodell said.