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ORLANDO, Florida – At this week’s MEF17 event in Orlando, Fla., Josh Goodell, vice president for intelligent edge at AT&T, said the carrier was set to launch a dynamic version of its software-defined wide-area networking (SD-WAN) product. The platform would be network based and become available early next year.

Goodell said that the carrier’s current SD-WAN platform, based on VeloCloud’s technology, is static in terms of management.

“This will be the first dynamic service,” Goodell said. “This will be something differentiated.” It will include dynamic application aware routing, which he admitted was not necessarily unique in the market. But, when architected through the AT&T Integrated Cloud (AIC), there is built-in resiliency.

He also explained the service would use MPLS when it makes sense. “It’s not an either/or decision,” Goodell said. “An enterprise can make the decision on a site-by-site basis.”

AT&T’s SD-WAN is part of the company’s intelligent edge platform, which is now deployed in about 30 countries and will become available in more than 200 countries. Deployments are currently heavy on SD-WAN as the initial service. Goodell said around 50 percent of customers were adding security to their platform; 30 percent were adding optimization; and 90 percent were having AT&T manage the product.

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson earlier this year indicated that the carrier was working on an internal SD-WAN solution with VeloCloud’s help.

Goodell also said AT&T was set to increase the availability of virtual network functions (VNFs) that run on top of the carrier’s FlexWare Intelligent Edge platform. He said the carrier planned to add between three and four new VNFs each quarter beginning in 2018.

ONAP Progress

Goodell said FlexWare, AIC, and VNFs were three of the four “primary elements” of AT&T’s virtualized network plans. The fourth is the Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP). He said ONAP was one of the most complex undertakings for AT&T “over the past decade or two,” and was “the brains of our orchestration efforts.”

ONAP plans to issue its first code release soon under the “Amsterdam” banner. Goodell noted this was significant considering that a year ago he did not even think AT&T would push its then-labeled ECOMP product into the open source community.

“That was not something that AT&T did,” Goodell said. But AT&T has seen a significant amount of innovation around ONAP “at scale,” he added.

There has been some concern over AT&T’s influence over ONAP, though it appears most in the community are OK with it.

Andre Fuetsch, CTO and president of AT&T Labs, recently hinted ONAP was set to gain new carrier members, although he did not state if they would be domestic or international. ONAP has garnered membership from a number of large international mobile operators, including China Mobile, Orange, and most recently Vodafone. Domestic rivals Verizon and T-Mobile have not joined ONAP, at least not yet.

Greengrass Example

Goodell also cited the recent launch by Amazon Web Services (AWS) of its Greengrass platform. He noted this allows for the processing of data at the network edge to deal with latency sensitive applications. AT&T recently announced a deal with AWS to integrate Greengrass into software with FlexWare to boost Internet of Things (IoT) development. The move will support IoT business cases that require edge computing.

“We hadn’t even thought of this five months ago,” he said. “And it will now be available in the next couple of months.”

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