AT&T FlexWare is the new name for the virtual network functions service that AT&T launched back in July. That offering, formerly known as AT&T Network Functions on Demand, also now offers an alternative customer premises device and has been expanded to additional countries and to include functionality from another vendor – Palo Alto.
“We wanted to give the solution a name that’s easy to understand and communicates the flexibility and scalability of the solution,” said an AT&T spokesman in an email to Telecompetitor. “AT&T FlexWare is an agile, software-based model that adapts to our business customer needs.”
The basic concept behind AT&T FlexWare remains unchanged from its previous incarnation. The service lets AT&T ship generic hardware to business customers around the world onto which customers can download the functionality desired. Initially customers could gain router functionality using software from either Juniper or Cisco, along with WAN acceleration technology from RiverBed and security capabilities from Fortinet. Additionally, AT&T Flexware now supports security capabilities from Palo Alto Networks.
The hardware initially offered supported up to four virtual network functions (VNFs) but AT&T also now offers a smaller device that can run up to two VNF applications.
AT&T Flexware is based on the concept of network functions virtualization (NFV), which aims to reduce networking costs by replacing purpose-built hardware with generic hardware, onto which software can be loaded to provide the functionality of a variety of devices. AT&T has focused heavily on NFV, along with software defined networking (SDN), which centralizes control of network devices, over the last couple of years.
AT&T Network Functions on Demand was somewhat unique among AT&T service launches, in that it was made available in 76 countries from the get-go. The broad geographic launch was particularly appealing for this service because it had the potential to eliminate the need for AT&T to ship specialized hardware all over the world. With today’s news, AT&T now offers FlexWare in more than 150 countries and territories.
Verizon Virtual Network Services, also announced in July, are quite similar to AT&T FlexWare.