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AT&T's Conversion to Virtualization, Software Control On Track

AT&T jumped on the software-centric networking bandwagon in a big way by aiming to virtualize and "software control" 75 percent of its core network operations by 2020, and today it announced that plan is on track.

"In 2018, we reached the 65 percent mark as planned, taking advantage of the Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP) that we co-founded in 2017," said the company in a Jan. 9 post.

ONAP resulted from The Linux Foundation combining two of its open source projects into one for automating virtual network functions in software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) implementations.

Along with co-founding ONAP, AT&T has been active on several other open networking initiatives, such as open sourcing the homegrown software platform powering its software-centric network, called the Enhanced Control, Orchestration, Management and Policy (ECOMP), in 2016. It leveraged SDN and NFV and the firm hoped it would mature the fledgling technologies and become an industry standard.

More recently AT&T open sourced a homegrown project -- called the Disaggregated Network Operating System (dNOS)-- that champions the use of white-box hardware in SDN/NFV installations.

AT&T provided the network conversion update in a post that primarily reported on the company's rollout of 5G mobile networks, to which the software conversion effort is related.

"This initiative is making it faster and more cost effective to deploy technologies, such as our continued mobile 5G expansion," the company said. "For example, the routers in our cell towers have traditionally been purchased as specialized, self-contained units from a small handful of vendors. In 2018, we decided to design our own cell site routers and released those hardware specs as open blueprints so any hardware maker can build them for us. And, we're running our own open source software on those routers. In 2019, we plan to deploy thousands of these 'white box' routers on towers across our network."

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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