AT&T Starts to Pick Up NFV Momentum
Most MSPs pride themselves on being faster and nimbler than the major telecommunications carriers. So by and large they are fairly confident that they will make the conversion to delivering software-defined networking (SDN) services that make use of Network Function Virtualization (NFV) software long before the carriers can roll out similar services. In fact, industry analysts don’t expect carriers to really make this transition in earnest until 2017.
And yet, AT&T continues to make rapid NFV progress. This week MetaSwitch Networks revealed that AT&T will be using an implementation of its Session Border Controller (SBC) in the form of NFV software. Used to connect with network services provided by other carriers, Steve Gleave, senior vice president of marketing for MetaSwitch, said the fact that AT&T is gearing up to deploy SBC software as an NFV would suggest the carrier is pretty far along in make the transition to delivering new classes of self-service networking capabilities.
At the recent Open Networking Summit, John Donovan, senior executive vice president for AT&T Technology and Operations (ATO), promised attendees that the telecom giant will be rolling out a number of NFV-enabled services in 2016. AT&T is clearly making extensive use of open source software to accelerate the virtualization of its networks, which serves to reduce the cost of operating those networks. In addition to promising that AT&T will virtualize 70 percent of its networks by 2020, AT&T has also committed to giving back to the open source community by making contributions based on the technology its engineers also develop.
Meanwhile, MetaSwitch this week also announced it has delivered version 1.0 of Calico, an open source network virtualization project based on an OpenStack-compatible cluster running on a 10G Ethernet network. That cluster can run 10,000 virtual machines or 50,000 Docker containers across 500 compute hosts. In addition, MetaSwitch announced that Calico is now integrated with the Mesosphere Datacenter Operating System (DCOS) software from Mesophere that abstracts away much of the complexity associated with deploying applications and managing IT infrastructure.
Clearly, there’s a big NFV truck being driven by AT&T and some of its key technology partners barreling down the highway that is running primarily on open source fuel. It may take a while for that truck to catch up to where many MSPs are today in terms of the services they provide. But with each passing day, it’s clear that truck is getting larger in rearview mirror of the MSP community.