AT&T (NYSE: T) has taken another step in its ongoing virtualization strategy by implementing container technology, a dedicated software compartment for a virtualized network function.
The container technology reduces the amounts of operating systems to run virtual function on a single service.
Up till now, when a service provider wanted to run multiple virtual network functions, it required its own virtual machine (VM). Under this structure, the server and VM had their own operating systems. An additional software layer, called a hypervisor, was also required between these layers.
Andre Fuetsch, senior VP of domain 2.0 architecture and design at AT&T, said in a blog post that these layers required a lot of processing power and could "reduce the benefits of virtualization."
"A container is a dedicated software compartment for a virtualized network function," Fuetsch said. "The best part is that the container runs directly on the server's own operating system. No hypervisor. No virtual machines. It's much more efficient."
Fuetsch added that using container technology won't be of much help if it requires manual input from a technician. Given the unpredictable nature of network traffic, he added that AT&T is using a micro-services container architecture that can call up additional network resources in an automated fashion.
"Micro-services allow you to connect across multiple containers the resources needed by the virtual network functions, when and where they need them," Fuetsch said. "Pre-set policies allow those virtualized functions to activate additional containers in the cloud in just seconds to respond to point-in-time demand."
While the micro-services container technology is still new, AT&T is currently conducting live tests with the intent of bringing it into network at a future date.
In support of using container technology, AT&T has joined two groups -- the Open Container Initiative and the Cloud Native Computing Foundation -- spearheaded by the Linux Foundation.
Fuetsch said that by joining those groups it "can help create an open industry standard for container and micro-services technology."
AT&T said that containers and micro-services will be two elements it will use to meet its ambitious plan to virtualize 75 percent of its network by 2020.
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