Why wait months, weeks, or even days for something that can be delivered in minutes? That’s a premise behind AT&T’s visionary shift toward software defined networking to create a smart network called the User-Defined Network Cloud (UDNC). It will give our customers greater control in adding services and bandwidth on demand. And like the cloud, the network becomes much more flexible, efficient and application-aware.

As mentioned recently in Bloomberg, one area where this shift will have an important impact is on cloud-to-cloud connectivity. When using a traditional network model, the connection between clouds is static – meaning it can’t expand or contract based on the need for bandwidth.  Traditionally, it has been labor-intensive, expensive and time-consuming to set up these cloud-to-cloud connections.

The promise of the cloud is the ability to dynamically provision compute and storage resources on demand. But the cloud’s potential grows even greater when the networking between data centers – or clouds – is similarly dynamic.

That’s why we’ve developed a proof-of-concept technology that can set-up a cloud-to-cloud connection in under a minute. This prototype uses just the right amount of bandwidth, and can enable setup times as short as 40 seconds, compared with the previous setup time of several days.

So why is this important? Imagine a hurricane is headed toward one of your data centers. You need to quickly provision enough bandwidth to transfer all of your data to another data center. With this type of cloud-to-cloud connectivity, that becomes possible. In the future, the use of flexible, on-demand bandwidth for cloud applications – such as load balancing, remote data center backup operation, and elastic workload scaling – will provide major service flexibility and efficiencies for businesses.

AT&T Labs, IBM Research and ACS created this technology through the U.S. Government’s DARPA CORONET program, which began as a hypothetical network study in 2007 and culminated in a real-world, proof-of-concept completed this May. The program was established to develop the network technologies needed to build next-generation, very high bandwidth on demand services.

Through our participation in this program, several AT&T Labs scientists and researchers, led by Executive Director Bob Doverspike – received special recognition from DARPA as key members of the project for their exceptional technical contributions to its overall achievements.

While we’re working to bring our vision for UDNC to life, this work through the CORONET program represents an important step forward, both for AT&T’s UDNC vision and for the industry. The convergence of cloud computing and networking technologies is closer than ever before.

Chris Rice
Chris Rice Senior Vice President – AT&T Labs, Domain 2.0 Architecture and Design