Over the past eight years, data traffic on our wireless network increased by more than 100,000 percent. This is due to more people watching video, playing games and using social media on their phones. Networks today struggle with the ability keep up with more traffic.
To address this, we’re shifting to a new model for our next-generation network. By 2020, our network will rely more on software than hardware. And we’ll control more than 75 percent of this network via software. This will help us meet the growing needs of data-hungry users. And it’s a significant change.
But you can’t test new features on a live system. To manage this, we’re creating testing frameworks at AT&T’s Palo Alto Foundry. These frameworks let us test new technologies and see how they will perform in the future.
Voltron allows us to prototype & test new technologies on a simulated network in a virtual environment. This allows us to answer tough questions like, “How will our network perform during a New York snowstorm?” Or, “Will video streaming work during Los Angeles’ rush hour traffic?” In this program, AT&T employees can develop and test their ideas in real-time.
As we move toward a software-based approach, we also need to change the way we manage our resources.
Charmander is a closed loop data analysis and optimization environment that we’ve made available in Open Source to prototype and study resource-efficient systems and concepts. With Charmander, we are able to run and measure resource-scheduling algorithms, so that over time, we can improve the overall efficiency of the utilization of our resources.
These frameworks help us understand new concepts and assist prototyping efforts as we move toward our future network vision.