AT&T apparently wants to build a software defined network (SDN). That could be good news for VMware (VMW) and other companies that focus on software defined data centers (SDDC).

The VAR Guy

January 2, 2014

2 Min Read
AT&T RFI Pursues Software Defined Networking (SDN)

AT&T has high hopes for software-defined networking (SDN). The big service provider has sent technology vendors a request for information (RFI) focused on a long-term SDN plan called Domain 2.0, according to MKM Partners. The potential big winner? VMware (VMW), the research firm predicted. Here’s the update.

The key takeaway from MKM Partners and coverage from The Rayno Report suggest the following:

“The RFI asks the vendors how they plan to develop network functionality aligning with AT&T’s long-term SDN plan — called Domain 2.0 — in which its network will eventually take on a more flexible, open “white box” model pegged to various SDN technologies and managed by an SDN controller, which is a new category of software/hardware being developed.”

White boxes — typically x86 servers — coupled with SDN potentially eliminate the need for expensive high-end networking hardware from Cisco Systems (CSCO), Juniper (JNPR) and other traditional switching and routing companies.

As part of its SDN push, VMware acquired Nicira in 2012 for $1.26 billion and now pushes a related development called VMware NSX.

Meanwhile, SDN upstarts like Arista Networks, Big Switch Networks and Cumulus Networks are building channel partner programs. Plus, it’s too early to predict SDN will topple Cisco’s traditional networking business. In fact, Cisco itself may profit from SDN in a range of ways. Cisco in 2013 acquired Insieme as part of a major SDN push that has now kicked into high gear.

Overall, it sounds like the shift to SDN networking won’t really take hold until at least 2015. After all, most companies don’t want to rip-and-replace existing network infrastructure. And in many cases, customers will need to explore ways to make SDN and traditional networks co-exist. Plus, many networking, storage and server VARs will need extensive training to sell and support SDN solutions.

Still, AT&T isn’t standing still. The company apparently is reviewing RFI feedback now. Is an SDN blueprint emerging at the big service provider? The VAR Guy will be watching.

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