BARCELONA -- Leading the way among service providers from around the globe, AT&T has been full throttle on the virtualization of its network.
During Sunday's Digital Operations Transformation Summit here, Light Reading CEO and founder Steve Saunders spoke with AT&T's John Donovan, chief strategy officer and group president, about the company's virtualization efforts during a "fireside" chat. AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) has vowed to have 30% of its network virtualized by the end of the year, with plans to reach 70% by 2020. (See AT&T's Donovan Touts White Box Networking.)
To kick things off, Saunders asked Donovan why AT&T has been so aggressive about deploying virtualization.
"Survival," said Donovan. "For myself, growing up in Silicon Valley, not growing up in this industry, gave me the perspective that speed was not only something that was advantageous it was an absolute necessity."
Donovan said the first step on the pathway to network virtualization was enabling cloud platforms and services. He said AT&T was currently 60% in the cloud, with a goal of 80% by the end of the year.
Saunders asked Donovan if enterprises were getting anxious about the cloudification of everything.
"Not at all," he said. "They're saying 'Go fast.' They'll be deliberate about how they adopt, where they try it and how they use it. You look at network on demand, which is a virtualization capability, it's the fastest adopted service we have. We're up to 450 enterprise customers already deployed. We're moving very quickly and I think the customers are not at all hesitant. They view it as advantageous."
Donovan said some of AT&T's greatest gains have been in central offices on the wireline side of the business. While AT&T is in the process of transforming its network, about 80% of its activity involves things that are still running in the legacy environment, according to Donovan.
And as much as AT&T wants to utilize virtualization, not every application will fit the bill.
"I think the most challenging stuff is on the access side because in some respects you've already made a virtualization tradeoff by where you put the nodes," Donovan said. "But what we're finding is if you challenge your thinking about where is the most effective place to put compute, then everything is really subject to change."
— Mike Robuck, editor, Telco Transformation