AT&T has become the newest member of Intel’s Super 7 initiative, a coalition of technology companies — including Facebook, Google and Microsoft — that are seeking to revolutionize the data center. Under a new partnership, AT&T will use Intel’s semiconductor technology to advance its network virtualization strategy and integrated cloud platform.
AT&T SDN/NFV Initiatives
Several years ago AT&T initiated an ambitious plan that entailed making use of SDN and NFV as the means to transform and upgrade its network infrastructure, SVP Andre Fuetsch, Senior Vice President of Domain 2.0 Architecture & Design, recounts in an Aug. 17 blog post.
Andre Fuetsch is responsible for delivering the architecture and design of AT&T’s future networking evolution. This transformation will utilize software-defined networking and network function virtualization to deliver products and services to the customer with greatly reduced time to market and significant operational efficiencies. He leads a team of over 2,000 engineers and computer scientists working on programs encompassing both the business and mass market customer segments.
Recognizing the benefits collaboration could bring with the dominating leader of the server microprocessor market, AT&T management struck up a cloud network innovation partnership with Intel to realize its strategic aims. AT&T and Intel have been collaborating on projects aimed at incorporating next-generation 5G broadband wireless and unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) drone technology into its evolving new ¨software-centric¨ network architecture,
Mr. Fuetsch wrote:
“Intel and AT&T have worked together for a long time. Most recently, we’ve been collaborating on technologies including 5G and drones. Bringing them into our software-centric network program was a natural fit. We’ll also be joining Intel’s “Super 7”. These are influential web and cloud companies on the cutting edge of network and data center design. We’re the first connectivity company to join this group. Call it the “Super 7+1”.
We’ll be optimizing NFV packet processing efficiency for our AT&T Integrated Cloud, or AIC. We’ll also define reference architectures and align NFV roadmaps to speed up our network transformation.
This means we’ll continue to get new software-based network services and capabilities to our customers faster than ever, just as we did with Network on Demand and Network Functions on Demand. Open source software running on hardware powered by Intel chips will enable many of these virtualized network functions. So we’re asking the developer community to stay engaged, too. Open source groups like OpenStack, OPNFV, OpenDaylight, ON.lab, OpenContrail, the Open Compute Project and others are vital to us.”
AT&T is joining Intel’s ¨Super 7,¨ a group of leading Web and cloud companies aiming to push the envelope and improve network and data center design. AT&T would be the first broadband carrier to join the group, making it ¨Super 7+1,¨ Fuetsch wrote.
Intel says its future depends on the new applications enabled by networks like AT&T’s, elevating the carrier into the same elite group of public and large private cloud computing companies it calls the “Super 7”: Amazon.com, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent. Like those companies, AT&T will get early access to Intel silicon and other technologies. Patrick Moorhead, president of Moor Insights & Strategy, said it was odd to include AT&T in the group of the largest cloud companies, but it could help Intel ensure that its chips and devices will run well on 5G networks.
As a ¨Super 7¨ member, AT&T is looking to optimize NFV packet processing efficiency for the AT&T Integrated Cloud (AIC). Company researchers will also define reference NFV architectures and align them with its network transformation plans in a bid to bring them to fruition sooner.
Faster, lower cost introduction of new cloud software and services are among the key prospective benefits AT&T, Intel and others are looking to gain from SDN and NFV. Making use of open source software and Intel processors are core facets of their collaborative efforts. That includes staying actively engaged with open source groups such as OpenStack, OPNFV, OpenDaylight, ON.lab, OpenContrail, the Open Compute Project and others, Fuetsch noted.
Opinion: It remains to be seen if this and other SDN/NFV partnerships can be commercially successful in the absence of any definitive interoperability standards and their implementation by carriers and cloud service providers. We are HUGE SKEPTICS at this time!