AT&T shifts 130K employees to focus on software networking transition

AT&T's (NYSE: T) ongoing movement to control more of its network by software has required it to reorganize nearly 130,000 of its organization, including IT, network and operations staff, to focus on this new effort.

Out of these 130,000 employees, 2,000 engineers are focused on software defined networking (SDN) with thousands of others participating in the effort.  

As part of this program, the telco said that their employees have completed almost 1 million courses in a number of key areas such as Agile software development, project management, and real-time distributed computing.

One of the key elements of the employee training is the move towards DevOps, a software development method that it says focuses on collaboration between service developers and other IT workers. Out of this process, AT&T's employees will have to acquire new skills on how to work in a SDN-based network architecture and protocols, while applying cybersecurity in a virtual network environment.

"We're trying to make sure we can evolve our capabilities and processes in a DevOps model to scale," said Scott Mair, senior vice president of technology planning and engineering for AT&T, in a WSJ article.

In order to carry out DevOps training, AT&T has developed a partnership with Georgia Tech and online education company Udacity. The service provider's online education program offers a course that will teach students about the development life cycle, design processes and software testing, while another class teaches software-defined networking, data center networking and content distribution.

This training process is part of the company's ambitious goal to have 75 percent of its network controlled by software by the year 2020.

Progress on the software transition goal continues to ramp. Earlier this year, AT&T said it is close to reaching 5 percent of the 75 percent goal. In 2016, the software transition progress will continue to ramp.

What's driving AT&T and other large telcos to make the transition to software is to be able to deal with the unexpected traffic bursts caused by users streaming music and video content on their devices throughout their homes and offices.  

For more:
- WSJ has this article

Related articles:
AT&T's Fuetsch: Apple's iOS software updates 'biggest event we worry about' on network
AT&T's Donovan: Software, IP migration will increase service delivery
AT&T strengthens solution partner bond with new partner exchange features
AT&T brings on-demand Ethernet service to five new markets
AT&T on track to virtualize 5% of network functions by end of 2015

This story was updated on June 8 to reflect amount of employees across AT&T's organization that are participating in its software effort.