AT&T carries 197 petabytes of data traffic every business day, according to a blog post from Chris Rice, the Senior Vice President of AT&T Labs, Domain 2.0 Architecture and Design. That means that transitioning to an AT&T software defined network is not just the better way to do things, according to Rice. It’s the only way, he said.
The AT&T software defined network will require a massive and multilayered transition that can be compared to overhauling a major highway without stopping traffic, said Rice, who refers to the effort as “Network AI.” His blog post highlights what has been accomplished and the timing going forward.
AT&T Software Defined Network
Early in 2015, AT&T said that it would virtualize and place software-controls over 75% of the core network by 2020. The interim goal of 55% last year was met. Recently, another interim goal — 65% completion — was set for this year. Another key objective for 2018 is to launch mobile 5G. AT&T says it will do so to 12 cities, starting with parts
of Dallas, Atlanta and Waco, TX.
The effort to virtualize the network on an open source software foundation has several elements:
- ONAP is the operating system for the network cloud. The project now includes more than 50 network and cloud operators and technology companies worldwide. They collectively represent more than 60% of the world’s mobile subscribers. The second release of ONAP, called Beijing, is slated for release during the second quarter.
- DANOS is the OS for the generic (“white box”) servers that are used in a virtualized network. AT&T has said that it will support its 5G initiative with the deployment of as many as 60,000 of these devices.
- Acumos, which was co-created by AT&T and Tech Mahindra, is an AI platform that enables the chaining of microservices via a drag-and-drop interface. The Linux Foundation has announced that Acumos is available to the public.
- Akraino Edge Stack is aimed at bringing advanced functions to the edge.
Though hardware is deemphasized, it still plays a key role in the AT&T software defined network. Rice wrote that AT&T’s specification for its universal customer premises equipment (uCPE) has been approved by the Open Compute Platform. The uCPE is installed at business locations and hosts applications and services.