FlexWare: Year Two

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It’s been over a year since AT&T introduced its FlexWare offering. It was positioned as the next big thing in enterprise networking, and in the intervening months, AT&T has rolled out a number of important virtual network functions (VNFs) that run on its x86-based FlexWare devices.

Those VNFs essentially replace proprietary boxes that historically have been costly to operate and replace in terms of time and money.

Light Reading’s Carol Wilson said that AT&T’s venture into “white box services” is “a clear signal to traditional telecom suppliers that the gig’s up on closed system sales.” That’s cheery news to enterprises that have long chafed over the relative inflexibility of on-site equipment solutions.

Recently, the company disclosed several significant FlexWare developments:

  • FlexWare is now available in 200 countries
  • Connectivity options now include AT&T VPN, Internet, and Ethernet as well as non-AT&T broadband and MPLS networks
  • Three new virtual security offerings from Palo Alto Networks, Juniper Networks, and Check Point

With the expansion of connectivity options beyond the initial VPN offering, “Connections can be through AT&T or from another provider, and domestic deployments can use wireless connectivity for redundancy,” SDxCentral reported.

Ericsson gets on board

Further expanding the FlexWare profile, Ericsson announced it is rolling out FlexWare availability across its global corporate network. “With its modular nature, AT&T FlexWare is quick to set up,” according to a press statement. “This means Ericsson can roll out AT&T FlexWare to many global sites quicker than the traditional appliances built for a single purpose.”

In June, AT&T literally pushed FlexWare to the edge, revealing that it was already deploying edge computing capabilities to enterprise customers through FlexWare.

“We’re embracing a model called edge computing (EC) to move the data crunching from the device to the cloud,” the company announced. Also, the company said, “powering it all will be our software-defined network, the most advanced of its kind in the networking industry.”

Radical transformation

These changes in the telecom industry are remarkable, and they rely on software and virtualization to radically transform the state of networking. As we’ve seen with the virtualization of the data center, and cloud computing, once this type of transformation begins, it quickly picks up steam to shake up entire industries.

"AT&T's network modernization efforts are far ahead of other providers', especially with its launch of three software-centric services—AT&T Switched Ethernet with on-demand capabilities, AT&T Dedicated Internet with on-demand capabilities, and AT&T FlexWare — in the past three years," Roopa Honnachari, Frost & Sullivan Industry Director, Business Communication Services, and Cloud Computing, declared in announcing an industry leadership award to AT&T.

"These services boost customers' productivity, efficiency, and cost savings as they deploy wide area network services,” said Ms. Honnachari.

For more information on AT&T network services please go to: https://www.business.att.com/enterprise/Portfolio/network-services/