AT&T: Three-quarters of our network is going virtual, and we're open-sourcing the tools

Ma Bell pushes out whitepaper on ECOMP tools it uses for SDN

AT&T says it will open source the software it is using for an in-house network virtualization push.

The US telecom giant said that the ECOMP (enhanced control, orchestration, management and policy) software-defined networking (SDN) software will be the basis of a push to virtualize 75 per cent of the AT&T network by the year 2020. That software will be released as open source and will work with the OpenStack architecture.

AT&T said that ECOMP is the software it is using as part of an effort to shift its network hardware from specialized hardware appliances to virtual machines hosted on off-the-shelf hardware. In the process, AT&T says it will be able to provide greater capacity and flexibility than its previous network, which was constructed largely to handle voice traffic.

The ECOMP package includes SDN and WAN optimization tools, as well as VM and cloud service management (including software to allocate hardware for VMs) and security and management frameworks.

"ECOMP is an infrastructure delivery platform and a scalable, comprehensive network cloud service," said AT&T chief strategy officer John Donovan.

"It provides automation of many service delivery, service assurance, performance management, fault management, and SDN tasks."

Seeking additional input on ECOMP, AT&T says it will make the software available as open source and has already posted a whitepaper [PDF]. The telco hopes that, in addition to helping AT&T, open source contributions will also allow other network operators around the world to use ECOMP for their own SDNs, providing an inside track to interoperability with AT&T in the process.

"A system like ECOMP is very powerful, as it allows us to build our next-generation cloud-based network in a vendor-agnostic way, giving us great flexibility for deploying NFV/SDN in our network," said Donovan.

"As a model-driven platform, this framework costs less than maintaining existing network systems."

AT&T said that its Labs division will soon be posting more information on ECOMP and its collaboration plans. ®

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