Adtran Conference: Broadband Saturation, Cloud, SDN and NFV Top Agenda

Lorna GareyHUNTSVILLE, Ala. — It’s no surprise that a company focused on supplying the building blocks of next­-gen networks is pushing for universal broadband. What is interesting is the velocity with which communities are rolling out gigabit broadband services.

Today at the company’s Huntsville, Alabama, campus, Jay Wilson, Adtran’s senior vice president of technology and strategy, opened the communications and networking gear provider’s 2015 Broadband & Business and Connect conference by announcing that it exceeded its goal of being the first broadband-infrastructure supplier to help service provider, cable operator, municipal and rural carrier customers deploy ultra­fast gigabit broadband services to more than 200 communities across the U.S.

Adtran's Jay WilsonThe company cites a survey by NTCA – The Rural Broadband Association, stating that 85 percent of 128 responding service providers have long­-term fiber deployment strategies. Wilson’s keynote centered on the theme of helping its customers and partners manage the pace of economic development and technical and social change. By 2017, global Internet traffic will hit 46,500 gigabytes per second, with nearly half of that demand coming from entertainment applications, largely Netflix and YouTube in the U.S.

“It’s not so much whether you should do gigabit, it’s about what are you’re going to do with it,” said Wilson, adding that partners are making these networks work for end customers. Gigabit to a community delivers an economic development gain of over 1 percent and increases home values by as much as 3 percent.

Robert Conger, Adtran’s director of global carrier strategy and solutions, highlighted the company’s focus on software.

“Bandwidth demand from cloud-centric applications plus a need for agile, user-­driven networks are driving a transition to new data-center architectures built around SDN, NFV and DevOps and automation,” said Conger, citing AT&T’s Domain 2.0 initiative as an example of how telcos are adopting these network characteristics.

Keys to success for operators: programmable networks; distributed data centers with elastic resource allocation; efficient, pay­-as­-you-­go cloud access; a move away from multi­-hop rings; and intelligent networks with real-­time analytics and self-­healing. And not only are data centers SDN­-focused, they’re distributed to handle the 85 percent of all traffic that’s projected to stay within the metro network as cloud pushes content closer to the customer. While the likes of AT&T and Verizon are vertically integrating and buying data centers, smaller providers can compete via …

… peering relationships – and thanks to using NFV to deliver services as virtual network functions (analysis of NFV’s promise for partners is here).

Adtran’s pitch is that its focus on vendor­-agnosticity and involvement in the Open Compute telco working group, the Broadband Forum, Open Daylight and a variety of other open hardware and software forums, puts it in the sweet spot between competitors looking to lock customers into their architectures and a white­box approach that demands a significant investment in expertise.

Adtran's Chris ThompsonChris Thompson, director of Adtran’s customer devices portfolio, connected the dots between cloud and NFV for both enterprise and CSP attendees by citing a ComputerWorld study showing that 24 percent of enterprise respondents will spend less on hardware this year compared to 2014, while more than half of large companies will increase cloud spending by 52 percent; SMBs aren’t far behind. Infonetics predicts enterprise customers will use 14 different CSPs by 2017, while about 35 percent of physical and virtual servers will be on CSP networks.

For CSPs, key business opportunities are connected home-automation functions, from security and wireless video to controls over Wi-­Fi.

Todd Lattanzi, Adtran’s director of product management, dug deeper into a main area of interest to the service-provider audience: monetizing new services.

“If you’re not in there offering Wi­-Fi services, you’re opening the door to competitors,” said Lattanzi, referencing a partner that worked with a New York­-based retailer looking to use a Wi-­Fi network to analyze customer traffic and push incentives to repeat shoppers.

Follow editor in chief @LornaGarey on Twitter.

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