AT&T said today that it has deployed disaggregated IP routing at the network edge. The news is the latest in a string of developments AT&T has announced as part of the carrier’s broad plans to move toward a network based on generic hardware controlled by software separated from the hardware. Cisco will provide that software.
The first use case for AT&T’s disaggregated edge routing platform is traffic exchange with other internet service providers (ISPs) – functionality known as peering. Eventually the platform is expected to support broadband, IP content, Ethernet, mobility and virtual private network (VPN) services.
The generic hardware that will support the AT&T disaggregated IP routing platform will come from UfiSpace – a company that AT&T previously selected to support the AT&T IP/MPLS core. As AT&T notes in a press release, this demonstrates “the true openness of the hardware.”
Advantages of using the same hardware in the network core and network edge include consistent maintenance processes and sparing. The UfiSpace hardware uses a building block approach that enables service providers to combine 40x100G or 10x400G line card systems and a 48x400G fabric system to create routers with capacity from 4 Tbps to 192 Tbps.
A third vendor supporting the AT&T disaggregated edge routing initiative is Broadcom, which will provide silicon underlying the platform based on Broadcom Jericho2 technology.
The Cisco software that will underlie the deployment is the IOS-XR network operating system, which will provide management and control functions.
In a press release, AT&T Chief Technology Officer for Network Services Andre Fuetsch said the AT&T Cisco disaggregated routing news is “a really big development in the networking ecosystem.”
He added that “This model gives us options and flexibility in our supply chain and enables us to use best-in-breed products whether they come from established or disruptive suppliers. And this is well past lab experiments; the technologies and ecosystem have matured, and we are now into the production deployment phase.”
The press release doesn’t detail how close to the edge the IP peering functionality will be placed and AT&T did not immediately respond to an inquiry from Telecompetitor about that. We will publish an update whenever we hear from them.
The network edge has been getting a lot of attention lately, particularly for 5G networks. AT&T and other service providers are beginning to move cloud resources closer to the network edge to maximize the low latency of 5G by minimizing latency in the transport network.