There's more to network virtualization than the shiny new technologies, according to AT&T's Andre Fuetsch.
In the second installment of Telco Transformation's Q&A with Fuetsch, who is senior vice president of architecture and design at AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), he talked about the importance of instilling new cultures and skill sets across the workforce.
As the leader of a team of 2,000 engineers, Fuetsch is well-versed in AT&T's transformation to SDN- and NFV-based networks and services, and the cultural changes that were needed to make the transitions. Fuetsch addressed SDN and NFV in the first installment of the Telco Transformation Q&A. (See AT&T's Fuetsch Provides Download on SDN/NFV Roadmap.)
Telco Transformation: Can you give us a rundown on AT&T's digital transformation process over the next five years?
: One of the biggest challenges is equipping our employees with the skills they'll need in this software-centric world. It's a cultural pivot and a skills pivot. So we've launched several programs to help people prepare:
Foundational: Development of a learning transformation series offering basic knowledge explaining new technologies changing AT&T's business, such as big data, APIs, Long-Term Evolution (LTE) and video as examples. There have been tens of thousands of completions to date.
Intermediate: Internal technology certifications in high-demand areas, including agile program and project management, computer science, cyber security, data science, IP networking and software-defined networks. These certifications normally take two to six months to complete.
Specialized: Partnered with online educator, Udacity, to create specialized credentials entitled Nanodegrees. A Nanodegree normally takes four to nine months to complete and focused on specific projects, such as front-end web developer, data analyst, full stack web developer, iOS developer, and introduction to programming. Students complete five projects.
Advanced: Partnered with Georgia Tech and Udacity to create the first ever Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) platform-based Masters of Computer Science. Same coursework, rigor as traditional Georgia Tech degree, and Udacity provides MOOC platform. Students can learn at their own pace.
TT: What sort of cultural changes does AT&T need in order to enable network virtualization, SDN and NFV?
AF: The bottom line for AT&T's workforce skills pivot is today's traditional institutions are struggling; too often slow, costly, and not targeted enough with skill sets. With Georgia Tech and Udacity, AT&T is using connectivity and technology to enable learning whenever, wherever the student wants. The result is a free-market approach to reskilling employees, at scale. It also helps AT&T insure it has people and necessary skills to compete in the software economy and execute strategy.
TT: What roles are DevOps and Big Data playing at AT&T?
AF: We are rolling out our Domain 2.0 platforms and services in a DevOps culture. We start developing the architecture, prototype/dev, then roll out in production and then reiterate the flow or parts of this flow based on our operational or customer feedback. We are pushing our culture away from the waterfall development efforts.
Big data is key because data collection, store and analytics are key to running our network optimally. AT&T has for decades been doing big data before this term became coined. We called it predictive, proactive analytics to provide automated preventative solutions to avoid failures or performance degradation.
TT: How is OSS/BSS changing to keep up with software-centric networks and network virtualization?
AF: Our ECOMP (enhanced control, orchestration, management and policy) design has thinned out our legacy OSS. (See Major Change Afoot in Managing Virtualization.) Our BSS and what is left of our OSS is also shifting to the DevOps model. We are changing the way we plan, design, develop, deploy and operate to work in a more adaptable, agile environment.
— Mike Robuck, editor, Telco Transformation