OpenStack could be "de facto" cloud of choice says AT&T SVP

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The sheer scale of demand global telcos will have to contend with is formidable - AT&T's SVP explains why OpenStack was a natural choice

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Speaking at the OpenStack Summit 2016 in Austin, Texas, Sorabh Saxena of AT&T declared OpenStack ready for mass enterprise adoption, but also that it can be the "de facto standard" for private cloud.

The SVP of software development and engineering from the telco giant said that from 2007, AT&T's data traffic grew a massive 150,000 percent - and on an average day, 114 petabytes pass through the firm's network.

So to match this growth, AT&T has been rolling out its own cloud globally, both for enterprise and carrier workloads, AT&T Integrated Cloud (AIC).

"The economic gravity of this reality says that we must transform our approach to building networks," Saxena said. AT&T's answer is transitioning from purpose-built network appliances to open white-box commodity hardware, virtualised and controlled by AIC.

And network functions from those appliances are being transformed into standalone software components.

By taking this approach with OpenStack, AT&T is avoiding vendor lock-in - a recurring theme from the Summit's first day - while also maintaining an open and flexible architecture. Saxena said this allows for quick scaling at a lower cost, along with increased speed for feature delivery, and greater agility.

"Our goal is to virtualise and cloud-enable 75 percent of our target network architecture using a software-centric approach by 2020," he said.

AIC is currently leveraging 10 OpenStack projects this year, and there will be three more by the end of the year. For AIC itself, the business hopes to establish 1,000 "AIC zones" around the world.

Automation has enabled quicker deployments, too, having managed to deploy 54 zones in less than two months.

"Before automating deployments it took nearly ten months to deploy 20 OpenStack zones," Saxena explained. "With automation we could deploy 54 AIC zones in less than two months."

However, the scale at which AT&T operates could have been an "operational nightmare" without a centralised framework, so the company took it upon itself to develop OpenStack Resource Manager. Think of it as a region discovery service "like a hotel reservation system," Saxena said - with all the intricate details hidden away, masking "the complexity of all the zones from behind a pane of glass."

AT&T's success with developing and deploying OpenStack leads Saxena to believe that the platform is ready for the ecosystem the firm operates in - and that it can become the "de facto standard for private clouds of any size."

Since OpenStack's inception, there has been continued talk over whether or not it truly is an alternative to the biggest cloud providers in the market.

Saxena ended the keynote with a "call to action" to match the company's boast of its commitment to the community. He urged increased collaboration within OpenStack specifically to meet the needs of large-scale operators and service providers.

This, he continued, will be key to helping the community and the businesses involved with "achieving our common goal of making OpenStack the standard for private clouds."

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