The Massive Networking Shift to Disaggregation

Time-to-get-on-board-the-Massive-Shift-in-the-Networking-Industry

Coming just a month after announcing the deployment of DriveNets solution in AT&T’s IP core network. On Monday November 16, AT&T announced that it is extending its open disaggregated design to the converged IP Edge, integrating Cisco’s IOS-XR software on the same Broadcom Jericho2/UfiSpace hardware used for its core backbone. In short, Cisco is following DriveNets as the second disaggregated software supplier to work with AT&T, but in a less challenging use case.

“This is a really big development in the networking eco-system. This model gives us options and flexibility in our supply chain and enables us to use best-in-breed products whether they come from established or disruptive suppliers. And this is well past lab experiments; the technologies and eco-system have matured, and we are now into the production deployment phase,”  said Andre Fuetsch, AT&T’s CTO for Network Services, in AT&T’s recent announcement that they are offering open disaggregated design to the Converged IP Edge.


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How Big is the Move to Disaggregation?

Just like AT&T, operators globally are now realizing that the old way of doing things is no longer viable in dealing with the new demands put on networks and new dynamics in the networking and cloud markets.

The communication industry has been moving to an open disaggregated, multi-vendor approach. Industry initiatives such as OCP, O-RAN, DDC and TIP are set in that direction. Service Providers such as AT&T, Verizon and CenturyLink have been advocating their white-box disaggregated approach for quite some time.

Deutsche Telekom recently noted in Easy & simple: Network Disaggregation, that “The cards are being reshuffled. The operators are saying goodbye to rigid relationships with a few very large suppliers. The open software ensures more software partners and faster solutions.”

Echoing these sentiments, Telia shared in The Optical Networks Future: Open and Disaggregated, saying “Traditionally, the end-to-end optical network was a ‘closed’ or locked proprietary system that was difficult to evolve. But today’s open line technologies have changed the rules of the game. Enabling us to unbundle our network components and utilize the best possible combination of hardware and software to enable an era of new and highly flexible networking capabilities.”

Openness is the direction network operators are taking with their suppliers to optimize their resources and cost, but also open up new opportunities for service innovation.

Building Disaggregated Networks like Hyperscale Clouds

Hyperscalers were the first to embrace disaggregation in datacenters, reaching unprecedented scale, better utilizing their infrastructure and physical resources, and lowering their overall cost – both CapEx and OpEx. DriveNets Network Cloud solution is building networks like hyperscale clouds and offering the same benefits.

Hyperscale Cloud Network Cloud

Cost savings

50% cost reduction (CapEx and OpEx) – higher utilization of the shared physical infrastructure of white boxes

Scaling (up and down)

One routing PoD (Point of Delivery), 1-to-192 white boxes

Innovate faster

Multi-services and containers offer faster way to deploy network apps

Global in minutes

Support any service on any port

High availability and security

Carrier-grade, architectural redundancy, software reliability based on containers

Automation

DNOR – DriveNets Orchestrator lifecycle automation

One Throat to Choke

Every transformational approach brings tremendous value that drives its adoption. But it always has some downside – the price to pay for it.  In the case of network disaggregation, the concern is around the operational model.

Certainly any open solution based on multiple vendor elements raises concerns such as who really has the responsibility for the solution. This is why DriveNets takes full responsibility for the Network Cloud solution – we manage, test and support it as if it came from a single vendor. We also made a great effort to automate a big part of the setup and management, which reduces orchestration and management complexity.

We also have a trusted ecosystem of partners, that include leading system integrators, white box ODMs, and optics and silicon vendors. The solution is ultimately deployed through a VAR just like it is done already with incumbent vendors.

DriveNets Leads the Trend

DriveNets Network Cloud with its cloud-native software and standard networking white boxes brings radical cost reduction and operational simplicity to the network world and, as shown with this announcement, is being adopted by one of the world’s largest telecom service providers.

The industry acknowledges that DriveNets is leading this market transformation. Amongst the observations on the AT&T-Cisco announcement, Ray LeMaistre, editorial director of   Telecom TV, remarked in AT&T takes critical step in building a new, open, disaggregated network, that  “A few years of tests and trials resulted in the deployment of DriveNets in AT&T’s IP core network. That in itself is a big deal: The IP core has traditionally been the domain of a few major traditional integrated system vendors – Cisco, Juniper and Nokia/Alcatel-Lucent – and yet here was a startup forcing its way into one of the most important communications networks in the world”.

These latest announcements by AT&T and Cisco demonstrate DriveNets’ market leadership in multiple areas:

  • DriveNets established the open networking ecosystem and brought market leaders such as Broadcom, UfiSpace and other leading ODMs and optical vendors to support it (and is bringing more). Cisco is now joining this list as well, running its software on these white boxes at AT&T.
  • DriveNets Network Cloud is deployed in AT&T’s Core/Aggregation network over large clusters of white boxes (100s of Tb/s). DriveNets is replacing various router models and multi-chassis/CLOS routers with only two types of white box building blocks, supporting much greater scale than any other router today.
  • The disaggregated cloud-native network created by DriveNets is improving the economics of the internet and creating a modern infrastructure for new multiservice innovation.
  • DriveNets’ solution is cloud-native, supporting multiple containers of network and later other services over a shared infrastructure of white boxes. It optimizes the use of the physical network resources and accelerates the expansion of service offerings.

We are happy to see that Cisco is following the trend created by DriveNets and is now committed to disaggregation (Cisco’s blog announcement).  It looks like the disaggregation train has left the station.

About the author

Inbar is a high-tech marketer with wide international experience and passion for networking. She serves as the CMO of DriveNets, and joined DriveNets in 2019 to grow the company’s brand awareness and accelerate its business growth. Prior to joining DriveNets, Inbar was VP of Enterprise Product Marketing at Cisco’s Headquarters, supporting a $25B+ portfolio, and VP of marketing at Nokia.

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