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AT&T Expands NFV Management Platform

It promises to simplify the process of buying and adding network functionality.

AT&T yesterday announced an expansion of both the functionality and reach of its platform for managing network functions virtualization (NFV) implementations.

Called AT&T FlexWare, the platform was introduced under its previous name -- AT&T Network Functions on Demand -- last July, promising to simplify the process of buying and adding network functionality.

In this case, that functionality is delivered as a hardware/software combination that provides virtualized network functions (VNFs) -- basically software implementations of network functions deployed over NFV infrastructure. Those VNFs can provide functionality ranging from security (such as intrusion detection or firewalls) to WAN acceleration to even entire virtualized routers.

In the FlexWare offering -- a key component of the AT&T Network on Demand platform based on NFV and software-defined networking (SDN) -- those VNFs are delivered as applications running on dedicated devices. These are AT&T-branded, x86-based servers that come in several configurations. The company has reportedly sold more than 2,000 such devices since the program was launched less than a year ago.

AT&T Flexware
[Click on image for larger view.] AT&T FlexWare (source: AT&T).

AT&T yesterday announced three new virtual security options to FlexWare, along with a geographic expansion of their reach that sees them now offered in more than 200 countries and territories.

The new software-defined security options are:

  • Palo Alto Networks Next-Generation Security Platform (AT&T- or self-managed)
  • Juniper Networks vSRX Virtual Firewall (self-managed)
  • Check Point vSEC (self-managed)

They join the existing Fortinet self-managed and AT&T-managed firewall options. The Fortinet offering was among the initial applications available when the platform was launched last summer, along with Juniper Networks virtual routing, a Cisco virtual router and Riverbed virtual WAN optimization.

AT&T said its service can help enterprises:

  • Quickly deploy and configure AT&T FlexWare Applications from best-of-breed vendors
  • Improve total cost of ownership vs. existing proprietary equipment
  • Reduce the complexity of network infrastructure and vendor contracts
  • Streamline operations and simplify network management
  • Future proof an enterprise's investments as its business evolves

"Businesses spend billions annually on hardware worldwide," said exec Roman Pacewicz in a statement yesterday. "The potential savings, options and flexibility associated with moving to a virtualized edge platform are significant.

"It's game changing when network functions like routers or firewalls are moved to a virtual model. Businesses can be more agile while driving down costs."

In conjunction with yesterday's FlexWare expansion announcement, Ericsson announced it was making FlexWare available across its global corporate network. The networking and telecommunications equipment and services company said FlexWare availability was being rolled out to its locations in the United States, Latin America, Middle East and Europe.

"Virtualizing its network services with AT&T FlexWare lets Ericsson adapt its network to changing business needs in near real-time, while lowering its total cost of network ownership," the company said. "With its modular nature, AT&T FlexWare is quick to set up. This means Ericsson can roll out AT&T FlexWare to many global sites quicker than the traditional appliances built for a single purpose."

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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