AT&T to open source its SDN platform, as SDN test consortium launches

AT&T has announced that it is committed to releasing into open source the software platform that powers its software-defined network (SDN). It says that making its Enhanced Control, Orchestration, Management and Policy (ECOMP) platform available in open source will enable global service providers and cloud developers to meet the growing data-hungry network demands of new services. Data traffic on AT&T’s own wireless network grew more than 150,000 per cent between 2007 and 2015.

“In March, we opened the hood of our network, showed you the engine and the industry responded asking to join us,” said John Donovan, Chief Strategy Officer and Group President, Technology and Operations, AT&T. “Over the last few years, AT&T invented what we believe to be the most sophisticated, comprehensive and scalable software-centric network in the world. Today, we’re letting anyone use and build upon our millions of lines of software code by committing to releasing it into the open source community.”

SDN enables operators who are already committed to NFV to consolidate the complexity of all their individual virtual network functions (VNFs), which in turn enables them to better control and manage them, so they can more quickly add features and drive down operational costs. Business customers then acquire more control of their network services and consumers benefit because the network better adapts, scales and predicts how to improve their connected experiences. ECOMP is a VNF automation platform. And AT&T’s big hope is that it will become an industry standard.

AT&T’s previously stated goal is to virtualise 75 per cent of its network by 2020. It needs ECOMP to manage this transformation and it hopes other telcos will also benefit. It also believes that releasing ECOMP into open source will rapidly accelerate innovation across the cloud and networking ecosystems. AT&T is currently working with the Linux Foundation on the structure for this open source initiative.

“This is a big decision and getting it right is crucial,” added Donovan. “We want to build a community – where people contribute to the code base and advance the platform. And, we want this to help align the global industry. We’ve engaged a third-party company to be the integrator and provide support in the industry for the ECOMP platform. And we’ve received positive feedback from major global telecom companies. We’re excited to share more on that front very soon.”

University of New Hampshire SDN consortium
As AT&T was making its ECOMP open source announcement, the University of New Hampshire InterOperability Laboratory (UNH-IOL), an independent provider of testing and standards conformance services, was launching its SDN Consortium to enable one-stop shopping for controller and switch interoperability, conformance and benchmark testing.