AT&T talks 'disaggregation,' going open source

AT&T (NYSE: T) says the future of its network is all about software, and it's blazing a trail to virtualize 75 percent of its network by 2020. This week, John Donovan, senior EVP for technology and operations at AT&T, said the operator's engineers have figured out how to turn complex appliances into software running on commodity servers and other hardware.

That's the basis of network function virtualization (NFV), but AT&T is taking NFV a step further, he explained. "Enter 'disaggregation,' he said. "Disaggregation is a big deal. It means we don't just clone a hardware device completely in software and continue running it as before. Instead, we break out the different subsystems in each device. We then optimize each of those subsystems. We upgrade some and discard others. That's what we're doing with the GPON OLT, as well as other pieces like the Broadband Network Gateway and the Ethernet Aggregation Switch."

He also disclosed that AT&T will submit its customized YANG data modeling language into open source through the OpenDaylight Community. For more, see this FierceTelecom story and this AT&T blog.