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AT&T reveals details of ECOMP SDN platform

AT&T is seeking developer input in deciding whether to open source its ECOMP SDN platform for self-service networking.

AT&T has released details of its software platform for delivering self-service network services to enterprises.

AT&T took the covers off of the Enhanced Control, Orchestration, Management and Policy (ECOMP) architecture this week at the Open Networking Summit in Silicon Valley. ECOMP is a "big deal" because of the impact it has on enterprises with network operations tied to AT&T, said Elisabeth Rainge, an analyst at IDC.

"It [ECOMP] is changing how AT&T works with its customers," Rainge said.

AT&T and other carriers, including Verizon, are altering how they deliver network services. Today, most services are turned on manually over a period of weeks and sometimes months. Eventually, carriers want to provide a portal for customers to activate network services in minutes.

To do that, service providers need to build next-generation networks powered by software-defined networking and network functions virtualization technologies. That work has already begun.

AT&T Network on Demand

In 2014, AT&T started rolling out its Network on Demand product, which lets companies activate Ethernet connectivity, IP VPNs and other wide area network services; or make changes, such as ordering more ports or scaling bandwidth. Today, Network on Demand is available in more than 100 U.S. cities.

ECOMP is the platform for delivering Network on Demand. The architecture consists of eight software subsystems covering two major architectural frameworks. First is the environment for designing, defining and programming the platform. The second framework is for executing the logic programmed in the design phase.

AT&T has released a white paper on ECOMP to give the networking industry an idea of the company's thinking and direction, John Donovan, chief strategy officer at AT&T, said in a company blog. AT&T is ready to open source ECOMP if the developer community is willing to contribute code.

"Open sourcing ECOMP could have a significant impact on how the markets for SDN, network management, orchestration and even OSS/BSS [operations and business support systems] evolve," Rainge said.

By the end of the year, AT&T plans to have 30% of its network virtualized -- a transformation that makes ECOMP possible. AT&T believes it will reach its previously stated target of having 75% of its network virtualized by 2020.

Next Steps

Five SDN hurdles

Implementing network virtualization in SDN

Understanding SDN in the service provider network

Dig Deeper on SDN network virtualization

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