Technology Blog

This blog’s regulars have probably noticed by now that open source software is a foundation block of our network and technology transformation.

We plan to virtualize 75% of our network by 2020. The open source community is vital to hitting that goal. That community is all about collaboration and innovation. These communities focus on the finished software product, which speeds business velocity.

Virtualization sounds complicated. But it’s a concept you’re probably familiar with. Have you ditched your CD player for a streaming music app on your phone? That’s virtualization.

In the same way, we’re transforming physical devices in our network into apps that run on open and commoditized hardware. And it all runs in our cloud. This new approach is essential to keep up with customer demand for much greater network capacity. Virtualization also lets us bring new services to our customers faster than ever. We call these apps Virtual Network Functions, or VNFs.

We run these VNFs in what we call the AT&T Integrated Cloud (AIC). AIC data and network centers – or “zones” – are physical locations. Our network is global. Our customers are global. So AIC is global, too. OpenStack software sits at the core of the AIC solution.

AIC is one of the critical areas that my team focuses on. I spoke at the OpenStack Summit in Austin on Monday about the work we’re doing. It’s a huge task. We believe AIC is already the biggest OpenStack deployment in the world. And it’s going to get much bigger. We deployed 74 AIC zones in 2015. We plan to get to 105 in 2016. By 2020, we expect to add hundreds more. We’re already up and running with OpenStack. We’ve been planning and building for years, and our plan is working. On Monday, we learned the developer community voted AT&T the winner of the OpenStack Superuser award. It’s a premier award recognizing companies making their organizations competitive in the current software-defined economy through their contributions to OpenStack. It’s a huge honor. And it’s a great accomplishment for all the dedicated folks at AT&T helping with our OpenStack initiative as well as for the OpenStack community.

We’ve noticed this week that some of our competitors are beginning to explore this space. We welcome them. The more companies that use OpenStack, the more developers will support it and expand its capabilities.

Indeed, while OpenStack is a great resource, it’s not quite ready for everything we need it to do. So we’re automating many of the complex design, build, manage and operational functions for a massively distributed yet centralized cloud platform, like AIC. We’re also integrating OpenStack into our larger technology ecosystem. For example, we built what we call the OpenStack Resource Manager, or ORM. This lets us manage AIC as one global cloud platform despite its highly distributed nature. We can quickly push out updates to all the AIC zones using this tool. We can also use ORM to manage the distribution of workloads that run on AIC.

But we can’t do it alone. As John Donovan, our chief strategy officer, said in January at our annual Developer Summit, we need the OpenStack developer community, plus the broader cloud developer community, to help us. It’s a give and take.

We are committed to OpenStack. And we will be increasing our pace of usage, participation in the community and contributions. For OpenStack to do everything AT&T and other companies need it to do, we need the developer community to help us to solve for large-scale operations and service provider needs.

Open source software and OpenStack, in particular, are vital to the future of networks. And developers are vital to making OpenStack work.

Sorabh Saxena - Senior Vice President, Software Development & Engineering – Technology Development, AT&T Services Inc. 


Sorabh Saxena
Sorabh Saxena President – Business Operations, AT&T Business Solutions