By Kevin Casey for Channel Partners
ADTRAN CONNECT — Those in attendance at Adtran Connect 2017, Aug. 14-16, at the company’s Huntsville, Alabama, headquarters, included 129 operators and roughly two dozen journalists and analysts, as well as others, with the Adtran executive team and employees in the mix, too.
CenturyLink EVP & CTO Aamir Hussain delivered Tuesday morning’s keynote address, aptly titled: “The Future of the Network.” And if Connect is any indication, the future is increasingly software-defined. Hussain and others spoke of software’s increasing importance in managing costs, reducing latency, enabling scalability, and many other needs.
And driving just about all of the modern operator’s needs: voracious demand for faster and faster broadband access, both among consumers and businesses. No matter how or where it’s delivered, that’s what people want — and it’s the network that will deliver it to them.
Hussain observed that CenturyLink itself is undergoing a digital transformation from being a legacy network to becoming a platform company. That gives the telco giant something in common with many of its customers – especially business customers – who themselves are in the midst of their own digital transformations. He shared some of the key factors in such a transformation: cultural change; technological change (embracing software-defined approaches to networking, for example); embracing the platform economy; becoming more agile; embracing open source and modern development methodologies like DevOps; and more. He said, for example, CenturyLink’s technology teams are now using the “minimum viable product,” or MVP, approach in their product and service development efforts. Software was a mantra at Connect, and Hussain’s keynote was no exception. And the network remains at the core of everything, even if it may be built and delivered differently in the future.
Vincent O’Byrne, Verizon’s director of network planning, also spoke about his company’s future road map. From the network standpoint, it’s betting on NG-PON2 as it prepares for the 10 gigabit-plus world, which may be closer than you think. Verizon’s NG-PON2 strategy is informed by its previous BPON and GPON rollouts; NG-PON2 isn’t future-proof, per se, but O’Byrne believes it is better suited to meet ever-increasing demand for high-speed broadband. He noted that forward-thinking of this sort is especially important because, from Verizon’s perspective, this kind of technology upgrade is a three-to-five year project. Pick the wrong approach, and it may be obsolete before you’re finished rolling it out.
Zip through our images from the event, including breakout sessions for press and analysts with Adtran execs on the company’s evolution as it readies itself for the network of the future. And be sure not to miss the final photo, either, which includes a rather, um, unusual attendee.
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The Future of the Network
CenturyLink EVP & CTO Aamir Hussain delivers his keynote address, “The Future of the Network,” to the audience at Adtran Connect 2017. Software was a key theme, as Hussain described CenturyLink’s long-term plan to become a “platform for everyone”: a hybrid IT platform, connected to multiple clouds, that is more programmable, automated and scalable than today’s networks.
Interesting tidbit: Hussain said CenturyLink’s current customer breakdown of 60 percent business and 40 percent residential will shift to 75 percent business and 25 percent residential once its acquisition of Level 3 is complete.
Verizon's Lessons Learned
Vincent O’Byrne, Verizon’s director of network planning, shares the telecom’s lessons learned from the company’s prior rollout of BPON and GPON. He also explained why Verizon is adopting NG-PON2 (skipping other options, such as XGS-PON, XG-PON, 10GEPON) as it envisions a 10 GBps (and faster) world in the not-so-distant future.
“You have to go to where the puck is moving to,” O’Byrne said.
CenturyLink 'Fireside Chat'
In a “fireside” chat (hey, it’s a figure of speech), Hussain expands on some of his keynote address themes with moderator Carol Wilson, editor-at-large at Light Reading, Channel Partners' sister publication. The growing role of software was again a key theme.
Hussain spoke, for instance, about the critical need for a new approach to orchestrating services across multiple markets, such as enterprise, SMB, and residential, in order for service delivery to be cost-effective. The answer? You guessed it: Software-defined. The CenturyLink exec also spoke about the related importance of virtualization in controlling operating costs: “Anything we can virtualize to reduce costs, we are doing that,” Hussain said.
Adtran chairman and CEO Tom Stanton updates press and analysts on the company’s multi-year transformation, which includes an aggressive move into software. Stanton said that 10 Tier 1 operators are already trialing or using Mosaic
. He also said the company is embracing the open source nature of SDN.
Connect attendees chat inside the Solutions Showcase, which included demos from Adtran’s portfolio (and snacks, of course.) There were 129 operators at the event, plus two-dozen analysts and members of the press. Oh, and plenty of Adtran execs and employees, too.
Adtran's Next Phase
Jay Wilson, Adtran's SVP for technology & strategy, speaks to press and analysts on the company’s current and next phases, which are increasingly software-focused. Wilson spoke of, among other topics, the importance of software-defined access to PON and G.fast lines, and as well as the general importance of software to programmability and innovation, and its growing role internally at Adtran.
Robert Conger, Adtran's AVP for cloud and portfolio strategy, takes press and analysts on a technical walk-through of the company’s evolution, noting that the firm is around three years in on its journey to a more programmable, platform-centric portfolio. Conger said we’re in the midst of the “period of discontinuity” en route to a new paradigm of open, software-centric, programmable networks.
Mosaic Deep Dive
Chris Thompson, Adtran's director for Mosaic Cloud Platform & OS, shared a deep dive on Mosaic, including several ongoing use cases with Tier 1 and Tier 3 operators. Thompson also introduced the new Broadband Subscriber Management Suite, which takes a software-centric approach to moving subscriber management out to the edge of the network. And it runs on commodity hardware instead of the traditional (and expensive) big-box chassis.
Mosaic On Display
Adtran’s Mosaic Cloud Platform, the firm’s open microservices architecture, was on display in the Solutions Showcase room at Connect 2017. Mosaic Cloud Platform is the network management and SDN control component of its Mosaic architecture for software-defined access. “Software-defined” was a persistent theme at the event.
Winky and Wi-Fi
Meet Winky, a great horned owl and resident of the Birmingham Zoo
, whose reps were on hand to discuss how it’s using Adtran’s ProCloud services to help overhaul its spotty WiFi system as part of a broader guest experience improvement project. Yes, zoos need high-quality connectivity, too.
“Our guests our changing and their demands are changing,” said Chris Pfefferkorn, SVP for the Birmingham Zoo, adding that mothers (ages 24-35) of young children are the zoo’s biggest market. And they’re all toting smartphones, as are just about everyone else that comes through the front gates.. Winky can’t tell a gigabit connection from a DSL line, by the way, but the owl has a heck of an appetite: Winky devoured two mice to show off for the audience.