AT&T, Intel optimize NFV packet processing for cloud network


AT&T has taken another step forward in its effort to virtualize more functions on its network by collaborating with Intel to develop new software-centric network technologies.

Specifically, the telco is working with the silicon vendor to optimize NFV packet processing efficiency for the AT&T Integrated Cloud (AIC). Additionally, AT&T and Intel will define reference architectures and align NFV roadmaps to accelerate its network transformation.

Andre Fuetsch, CTO of AT&T, said in a blog post that it will be able to deliver software-based like Ethernet on demand services quicker.

“This means we’ll be 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,” Fuetsch said in a blog post.

AT&T plans to deploy open source software running on hardware powered by Intel chips to enable a number of the virtualized network functions.

The telco said it is well on its way to having 30 percent of its network virtualized by the end of this year, with a goal of virtualizing 75 percent of its network by 2020. Those efforts call for AT&T to move network functions from expensive dedicated hardware and onto software running on less expensive, commodity hardware.

Besides offering new service capabilities, Fuetsch told investors during the Nomura 2016 Media, Telecom and Internet Conference that AT&T’s move toward SDN and NFV technologies will also help the operator lower its operational expenses.

“We see the opex opportunities actually being more [than capex opportunities],” he said. “We no longer have to deploy technicians to install these things. All this is going to be automatic. Because it’s so virtualized, we can move and shift capacity around on the fly. So it gives us not just the operational efficiencies, but it also gives us the opportunity to do more things on the top-line side – to add more capability, more functionality, more value – just because you’re compressing these time to market cycles. That’s the beauty of software: Things get faster.”

Fuetsch said AT&T is already seeing some cost savings from its SDN and NFV efforts.

“If you look at the efficiency of the capacity we put into the network, just in 2015, 2016, we’ve actually put in 2.5x the capacity at 75 percent of the cost of what we paid back in ’13 and ’14,” Fuetsch said.

For more:
- see this AT&T blog post

Related articles:
AT&T CTO on capex: ‘It’s certainly not going up. It’s certainly going down’
AT&T says industry not moving fast enough on SDN, NFV standards

This article was updated on Aug 18 to reflect that AT&T is working with Intel.