AT&T is the latest member of the telecom industry to make a strong push into the development of software-defined networking solutions. Delivering the keynote address at the recent Open Networking Summit in Santa Clara, Calif., the carrier's senior EVP of technology and network operations, John Donovan, confirmed AT&T's dedication to SDN.
AT&T previously declared its interest in creating an SDN-enabled network when it announced its Domain 2.0 initiative in 2013. That process included reaching out to various vendors to determine which ones would be interested in pursuing SDN and network functions virtualization. Donovan used the occasion to reaffirm the carrier's intent to migrate to an SDN-based network structure, beginning with critical processes and functions such as authentication before incorporating less immediate needs in the future.
According to TechTarget, Donovan announced that AT&T will pursue a number of initial projects in 2014 to set the stage for further development down the road, including putting controllers in place and expanding network testing efforts. Speaking to the source, analyst Lee Doyle stated that the carrier's plans will require a substantial overhaul of its current network assets, affecting as much as half of its annual infrastructure budget.
"Our strategy is more than just a network design change," Donovan said, according to TechTarget. "It's a change in how we do business with suppliers [and] with how we manage platforms, systems and software. It changes our people. We have to take advantage of cultural change at our company. … There is no army that can hold back an economic principle whose time has come."
IDG News Service explained that carriers such as AT&T are more likely to pursue SDN solutions than businesses in other sectors because the technology presents more direct financial value. While traditional organizations rely on the networks for day-to-day operations, enterprise leaders are less likely to view them as the foundation of their business. Meanwhile, network health and performance are critical to sustainable telecom operations, driving interest in SDN benefits.