Pulling Back the Curtain on the AT&T Network on Demand Platform

December 01, 2016
By Chris Rice

Traffic demands on the network are ever increasing. That’s why AT&T is leading the industry by transforming our network from the traditional, hardware-centric model to a software-based approach.

We had to rethink how we build and manage our network. It’s necessary to stay ahead of the data traffic growth and give our customers more flexibility and control over their network services. So for the past two years, we have. And customers are seeing the benefits, like the AT&T Network on Demand platform.

The platform gives businesses agility. They can move faster, gaining a competitive advantage. These services are the first commercially available AT&T products in the U.S. that combine software-defined networking (SDN) and network function virtualization (NFV) technologies. On-demand capabilities dramatically change how customers do business and manage their systems and networks.

Since its launch in 2015, more than 2,000 businesses across multiple industries have signed up for AT&T Network on Demand solutions. These include AT&T Switched Ethernet with on-demand capabilities, AT&T Managed Internet Service with on-demand capabilities and AT&T FlexWare. We’re seeing significant interest across verticals like financial services, healthcare and manufacturing.

When you think of an a la carte menu at a restaurant, what’s the best part? Is it the ability to pick and choose what you want as opposed to getting a set meal? Or the ability to get just the right amount of food?

It’s likely a combination of both. You want to mix and match items and increase or decrease the amount – tailoring something for you at that moment in time. That flexibility to pick what works for customers when they need it is the foundation of AT&T FlexWare.

Our software-defined network is behind AT&T Network on Demand platform, including AT&T FlexWare. The platform speeds ordering, simplifies network operations and helps improve total cost of ownership. This provides customers with a foundation to create flexible services that can grow as their needs change.

But we haven’t pulled back the curtain on how our software-defined approach and ECOMP, the next-generation engine that powers our software-centric network, supports the AT&T Network on Demand platform and its services, like AT&T FlexWare.

We developed the ECOMP provisioning and orchestration engine to support the Network on Demand platform. ECOMP is the software platform that automates the onboarding, service chaining, management and maintenance of the virtual network functions (VNFs) that run the AT&T FlexWare solutions; it supports the complete lifecycle of these services.

Just like a car needs an engine to speed it along the highway, AT&T FlexWare needs ECOMP to power its speed and agility. ECOMP delivers these solutions within the AT&T Integrated Cloud or on standard compute equipment on the customer’s premises.

Recently, the MEF recognized us with its 2016 Excellence Award for our leadership and innovation in connecting our customers with our software-defined network. It’s an honor to receive these awards. But even more so, we’re encouraged by the traction our software-centric approach is gaining in the industry.

We’re not the only ones experiencing this data traffic increase. We know our needs are similar to other cloud services providers and the rest of the industry. We want to collaborate with others and adopt standards so we can all pave way for the next-gen technologies now and in the future. 

Chris Rice, SVP of AT&T Labs, Domain 2.0 Architecture and Design

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