In a significant step toward one day making network services provided by enterprise IT organizations and carriers more unified, ADTRAN this week outlined a Future Network State blueprint for delivering those services using open application programming interfaces (APIs) to provide programmatic access to software-defined networks (SDNs) running network function virtualization (NFV) software.
Kurt Raaflaub, product marketing manager for ADTRAN, says that the long-time provider of networking infrastructure is moving away from proprietary network infrastructure to embrace standard x86 servers to deliver network services. Running on top of those x86 servers will be a range of consolidated network services that will be delivered via software versus the appliance that is typically use today, says Raaflaub.
ADTRAN is fairly far along on delivering on the promise of open REST APIs and SDNs, says Raaflaub, because the provider of networking equipment has already consolidated network services such as routing, switching and session control on the same physical appliance. Embracing NFV software is simply the next logical step in the evolution, says Raaflaub.
The end result of this shift, says Rafflaub, should eventually be the ability for IT organizations to enable end users to not only define their own network services on a self-service basis, but also be able to self-service network services provided by carriers at a much lower cost than those same services are provided today.
While it may take a while for carriers to deliver on that promise, some enterprise IT organizations are already starting to move in the direction on their own internal networks. As that shift occurs, Raaflaub says that ADTRAN expects the management plane associated with delivering those services to increasingly shift to the cloud.
Obviously, ADTRAN, which generates billions of dollars selling network infrastructure to carriers, sees the shift to SDN and NFVs as an opportunity to expand its presence in the enterprise at the expense of rivals such as Cisco. The challenge, of course, will be finding out to what degree IT organizations will be willing to reconsider their networking options in the face of what promises to be one of the biggest disruptions in networking in recent memory.