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AT&T Launches Network Functions on Demand

Continuing its support of new transformative technologies such as software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV), AT&T launched a new service, Network Functions on Demand.

Designed to be integrated with AT&T Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), the new offering is designed to simplify the process of buying and adding network functionality, the company said. It's a blend of universal Customer Premises Equipment (uCPE) and virtualized network functions (VNFs), consisting of an industry-standard x86, AT&T-branded hardware platform (uCPE) that can support multiple VNFs; a growing library of VNFs; and AT&T management services providing configuration, monitoring and maintenance.

That growing library of capabilities that customers can choose from right now includes:

  • Juniper Networks virtual routing.
  • Cisco virtual router.
  • Fortinet virtual security.
  • Riverbed virtual WAN optimization.

The move comes on the heels of the company's announcement last week that it will open source its SDN platform -- the Enhanced Control, Orchestration, Management and Policy (ECOMP) platform -- in the hope of it becoming an industry standard.

AT&T Network Functions on Demand
[Click on image for larger view.] AT&T Network Functions on Demand (source: AT&T).

"Software-defined networking (SDN) and network function virtualization (NFV) are industry-standard technologies that make it possible to deploy and manage network functions via software instead of through complex, vendor-specific hardware," the company says on its Web site.

By leveraging these game-changing technologies -- still relatively new and still evolving and maturing -- AT&T said its Network Functions on Demand service can help enterprises:

  • Quickly deploy, configure and test new network functions.
  • Minimize the time and costs associated with network maintenance.
  • Reduce the complexity of network equipment and vendor contracts.
  • Streamline operations and simplify network management.
  • Easily change your network infrastructure as your business evolves.

"Building networks by deploying network functions in software is a major shift in network design," said company exec Ralph de la Vega in a statement yesterday. "We've broken through traditional, cost-prohibitive barriers. Our software platform delivers a simple, flexible and efficient experience for any business, virtually anywhere and anytime they need it."

AT&T, claiming that the new service can reduce hardware requirements so enterprises can create simpler, more agile networks, said it's available in 76 countries and territories around the world. The new service is the latest to be offered as part of the company's Network on Demand initiative, launched last year and now reportedly in use by more than 1,200 businesses.

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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