Verizon executive calls for SDN standardization

DENVER—Software-defined networking is the next big area of focus for telecom operators and that's why standards are critical to advancing the SDN effort. "SDN is the next big problem for the industry to solve," said Chris Emmons, director of network planning for SDN implementation at Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ).

Emmons, who was speaking at Light Reading's "Carrier SDN Networks" event here today, called upon the industry to foster and develop SDN standards. "We need to build an ecosystem to foster and come up with the best solutions for standardization," Emmons said. "Whether it is open source or a true standard, we must get it right and develop to the same standard."

Interestingly, Emmons also called upon vendors to work on SDN software that can segment different applications in the application layer. He also warned that if the big vendors don't do this, smaller, more nimble software vendors will do it instead and potentially take the lead. "If existing vendors don't do it, the up-and-comers will do it," he said.

Emmons also said he is concerned about network security in this new world of software-defined networking because without it, someone might potentially get into the network's central element, which is the heart of the network. "If anyone gets into the central element, it can be bad," he noted.

Late last month Verizon Communications announced it was moving to a software-centric network architecture to reduce costs and deliver new services to customers faster. The company also said that it would initially be working with vendors Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), Cisco Systems, Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC), Juniper Networks and Nokia Networks (NYSE:NOK) on its SDN deployment. However, Emmons said that the company is open to working with others as well. "When we announced our SDN strategy we said we were partnering with vendors that we already work with. But it's not exclusive," he said.  

Verizon is initially focusing on moving SDN into its core network and data center network functions but the company also will deploy SDN in the radio access network. However, that deployment will take longer.   

Verizon has not publicly released a time frame for its SDN deployment, nor has it revealed how much it will spend to deploy SDN. However, the company has said it expects to spend between $17.5 billion and $18 billion on capex this year.

AT&T (NYSE: T) is also in the midst of converting to a software-driven architecture through its "Domain 2.0" program. The company has said it will virtualize more than 75 percent of its network by 2020.

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