AT&T (NYSE: T) is translating its cloud-based vision into a new service that will enable Austin-based businesses to order, add or change services in an on-demand basis.
Leveraging a software-defined networking (SDN) construct, the "AT&T Network on Demand" capability is being deployed as part of its User Defined Network Cloud (UDNC) strategy it launched in February.
Initially available for its Ethernet service suite, the service provider will make available the new capability to allow business customers to provision other services such as Internet VPN and VoIP at a later date.
Josh Goodell, AT&T vice president – Network on Demand, Mobile & Business Solutions, told FierceTelecom that it plans to expand the capability to other services and into other markets throughout the next year.
"We're starting with Ethernet and starting in the Austin area, but the focus I have is to expand geographically and we'll also be layering in additional services as well," Goodell said. "We'll deliver an online experience so customers can add in those services easily."
When AT&T starts to incorporate network functions virtualization (NFV), Goodell said it will look at providing virtual business services.
"As we expand from just a software definable networking capability to one that includes network functions virtualization, we'll start to look at services that were previously resident on the customer premise and required a hardware solution to virtualize them in a near real-time manner," he said.
Customers will be able to gain a number of benefits: the ability to dial up or dial down broadband speeds in near real time instead of hours or days and provision new communication ports in days compared to weeks.
"The scale and scope of what we're going to do is going to be unmatched," Goodell said. "From a benefit perspective, the speed at which customers will be able to make changes and provision their network is going to be differentiated and we're putting the keys in the customer's hands by putting them in control of the network."
Goodell added that "we're taking the network and doing what was being done in the cloud space from a compute perspective and it will dramatically change how businesses function when it pertains to their network."
The goal of the UNDC strategy is focused on simplifying and scaling its network through three activities: separating hardware and software functionality; separating network control plane and forwarding planes; and improving management of functionality in the software layer.
AT&T is working with a host of network infrastructure partners, including Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), Amdocs, Ericsson (Nasdaq: ERIC), Tail-F Systems AB and Metaswitch Networks LTD. It also named Affirmed Networks to work on developing a virtualized Evolved Packet Core (EPC). Ericsson also will provide AT&T related integration and transformation services.
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