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AT&T Partnership Combines SD-WAN with 5G

With 5G mobile networks just coming online in the U.S., forerunner AT&T is already pairing the game-changing technology with another transformative technology, software-defined wide-area-networks (SD-WAN).

5G is starting to supplant older cellular mobile communication technology, promising faster speeds, reduced latency, energy savings, cost reduction, higher capacity and massive device connectivity, the latter being especially important in burgeoning Internet of Things (IoT) initiatives.

SD-WAN is a more established but also fast-growing approach, providing an inroad into the enterprise for the disruptive, new-age software-defined networking (SDN) movement that sees more open, interchangeable software solutions overtaking legacy, proprietary, hardware-based systems. Commonly reported benefits of SDN include agility and flexibility, lower costs and increased performance. As the SDN movement matures from early testing and proof-of-concept efforts in academia and test labs -- mostly targeting major service providers and carriers -- SD-WAN solutions are increasingly penetrating the enterprise networking space.

After claiming to be the first provider to make mobile 5G service live in the U.S. on Dec. 21, 2018, AT&T yesterday announced a partnership to implement 5G capabilities into the company's SD-WAN offering.

The giant carrier picked VMware SD-WAN by VeloCloud for this integration, seeking to provide a "transformative combination" to serve organizations using SD-WAN along with 5G networks as either the primary or secondary WAN connection, along with other transport connections.

AT&T indicated this 5G/SD-WAN combination is an inevitable "next step" in the evolution of modern networking technology.

"This eventual combination of technologies will mark the first time that control will be built into both the software (SD-WAN) and the transport (the cellular network)," AT&T said in a news release yesterday (Feb. 21). "Before, SD-WAN was the point of intelligence in application-aware networking for a business. It would tell each application what transport to use, and the transport would simply carry it out. With software-defined networking extending into the cellular network, this intelligence can now be applied to the transport as well: traffic can be prioritized by device or application."

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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