AT&T says industry not moving fast enough on SDN, NFV standards

AT&T (NYSE: T) may have set an aggressive path to virtualize its network, but being a global player, the service provider said what will help drive adoption across the service provider community will be an accelerated standards effort.

Already, AT&T has taken a step in that direction by announcing a partnership with Orange to collaborate on new open source activities related to SDN and NFV.

Roman Pacewicz, SVP of offer management and service integration at AT&T Business Solutions, told FierceTelecom that the alliance with Orange is about influencing the industry around standardizing virtual technology.

"We think the two companies and other carriers can accelerate the standards work that's already occurring in a lot of the forums," Pacewicz said. "We don't think we're moving fast enough as an industry and we want to put more adrenaline in it."

Through that partnership, the two service providers have set out to achieve a couple of key goals: Simplify technological integration, increase operational efficiency and reduce costs. As part of that effort, two service providers said that they will identify forums for industry standardization discussions to drive standardization efforts forward.

While AT&T could not confirm what other service providers it could potentially establish similar partnerships with on SDN and NFV standardization, the telco said it expects to announce others later this year.

"We want to use open source standards, use the industry forums to ensure that the SDN and NFV software and supporting hardware ecosystem creates an environment that's standards-based and much more easy for all of the carriers to adopt and integrate into their network," Pacewicz said. "It's all around simplification and standardization to create these next-generation networks that dynamic and agile so customers will benefit from that because they can react to business needs more quickly."

One benefit will be the ability for large global carriers, which all have to exchange traffic for collaboration, to create on-premises and cloud-based offerings. AT&T has already been moving in this direction by offering a suite of on-demand services like its Ethernet on Demand feature that allows users to provision and purchase capacity as needed, for example.

Ultimately, the benefits of this integration will be for global business customers. By creating standards for both of these environments, industry members could build to the standards, create app stores of virtualized functions that are easy to deploy and drive the federation of networks.

This federation of networks means that service providers could more rapidly exchange and interconnect traffic – a process that has been very labor intensive.

"As carriers we use each other's networks, we want to drive standard-based federation of capacity to create hybrid services," Pacewicz said. "It's all around increasing the adoption of these new technologies with the objective of making networks more intelligent, more dynamic and creating greater value at a lower cost to our customers."

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