AT&T and Colt have moved the software-defined networking ball forward with their recent trial to provision on-demand services via a programmatic API-to-API interface between separate SDN networks in the US and Europe.
The proof-of-concept (PoC) trial was a milestone because it showed enterprises that it's possible to reserve ports, order a point-to-point Ethernet service, scale bandwidth up and down and turn down a service in near-real time across multiple service providers' footprints.
The handoff of customers has been a goal of the Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF) and service providers for some time. The programmatic API-to-API interface, which was developed by Colt Technology Services Group Ltd , allowed the service providers to knit together their separate SDN-based architectures. While AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and Colt each have their own SDN controllers to orchestrate and configure their networks, the API interface allowed the different controllers to "talk" with each other.
This could enable, for example, a large, international bank to conduct business seamlessly across AT&T and Colt's SDN-based networks.
The two-month trial took place between the US East Coast and various locations across Europe. The API interface between the separate SDN architectures proved that managed services could be set up across multiple networks in minutes, according to Colt and AT&T. In addition to providing a template for interoperability across various service provider footprints, the services can be managed in near real time.
"Our work at AT&T Labs and AT&T Foundry, and our collaboration with Colt will help enable customers to have more cost-efficient, flexible and adaptable networks," said Roman Pacewicz, senior vice president of Offer Management and Service Integration at AT&T Business Solutions, in a statement. "Businesses looking to provide a seamless connected environment for their customers can benefit greatly from a unified industry ecosystem that’s focused on interoperability."
While the PoC was notable, there would seem to be other issues to address going forward, such as a unified web portal for the users, and a process for how payments and billing would be handled by the service providers, which could involve additional tweaks to their OSS/BSS.
AT&T and Colt also announced that they would share the network-to-network interface and open API code with standards bodies and industry forums.
AT&T's work with standards groups includes ETSI NFV ISG, TM Forum, OASIS, IETF, ONF, MEF and 3GPP. It's also a big participant in several open source groups and forums, such as OPNFV, OpenStack, OpenDaylight, OpenCompute, OpenContrail, ON.Lab and others.
Colt is a founding member of the ETSI NFV ISG and was the first non-founding European service to join ONF. Colt is also active with MEF and participates in IETF as well as other working groups. Colt shared its views on SDN NNIs (network-to-network interfaces) and APIs at the most recent MEF quarterly meeting.
— Mike Robuck, Editor, Telco Transformation