AT&T’s purchase of Vyatta Software bolsters its virtualization push

The telcom carrier will acquire the company from Brocade. Here’s why it matters.

AT&T’s purchase of Vyatta Software bolsters its virtualization push
Nick Barber

Last week, AT&T agreed to buy Vyatta Software’s network operating system, distributed services platform, software still under development, existing software licenses, and related intellectual property and other assets—including the vRouter product line. It will also acqui-hire some Brocade workers, mostly in California and the U.K.

All about virtualization

The point, it seems, is to further boost AT&T’s industry-leading virtualization efforts, particularly in the and areas of software-defined networking (SDN) and network function virtualization (NFV). 

Neither AT&T nor Brocade would put a dollar value on the acquisition, but the deal is expected to close before Broadcom completes its $5.9 billion purchase of Brocade later this year.

For its part, AT&T is counting on the deal to help it meet previously announced goals of virtualizing 55 percent of its network by the beginning of 2018 and reach 75 percent virtualization by 2020.

According to a statement, “The Vyatta platform will help AT&T continue to drive its network transformation. This acquisition will bolster our ability to deliver cloud or premises-based VNFs, starting with our previously announced SD-WAN cloud service with VeloCloud.”

White boxes rule

In addition to pushing virtualization, AT&T hopes Vyatta will help bolster its white box platform capabilities. The company has been working in this area to design and build its own less-expensive white box switches to replace proprietary solutions, and it completed a trial of that effort in late March.

The ultimate point of all this? The goal is to leverage virtualization in the data center to build and deploy new features across AT&T’s networks faster and less expensively, both on premise and in the cloud. That’s especially important compared to competitors like Verizon and Orange, which are also working on virtualization initiatives.

Build new stuff faster and cheaper

As Andre Fuetsch, chief technology officer and president of AT&T Labs, put it in the company’s statement: “Being able to design and build the tools we need to enable that transformation is a win for us and for our customers.”

Clearly, the pressure to achieve this kind of digital transformation is critical for all kinds of technology companies, and AT&T is hardly an exception. Owning more of the base technology required to achieve this transformation helps put AT&T more in charge of the process, and — from NFV to white-box switching — helps AT&T avoid over dependence on outside technology vendors.

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