The engineers at Adtran, Alabama’s largest information technology company, are laying claim to a technology breakthrough — “a leap forward for the industry” no less.
The industry is the internet. Adtran makes the hardware for internet networks and the service providers who build them — the widgets and switches for the AT&Ts of the world.
At an independent test center in Berlin, Germany, Adtran recently demonstrated the industry’s first open and multi-vendor virtual Customer Premise Equipment (vCPE).
Translation: cloud-based network software. Software that replaces the boxes of widgets that cram the computer network closets of the world.
For all you may have heard about “the cloud” and cloud-based software, apps, iTunes and movies, the heavenly concept has not broken through at the big gatekeepers of the internet — service providers from AT&T and Comcast down to the Tier 3 regional/retail service providers.
Why isn’t it Cisco Systems — the industry leader in networking equipment — that makes such a breakthrough, rather than little Adtran in Huntsville?
“Big companies like Cisco look at it as a bit of a threat, ” says Kurt Raaflaub, head of strategic solutions marketing at Adtran. “They own many proprietary management systems, and they want any new functionality to come through Cisco-owned equipment. It’s like the music industry when Napster came along and there were four or five music companies in control. It’s technology that can unlock all these walls that have been artificially protected.”
How long before bringing this to market?
“We’ve been building all the pieces in the last three years. Access providers like ourselves have been heavily involved with the service providers, making sure all the components work together. And this year the service providers have really stepped up their game. AT&T is really pushing this new way of doing things, making it clear to the financial analysts they expect 30 percent saving in operations. They want all applications virtualized by 2020.”
Tests of Adtran’s vCPE system were conducted by the European Advanced Networking Test Center, one of the world’s leading independent test centers for telecommunication technologies. Announcement of successful test results was made at the Interoperability Showcase of the New IP Agency, a not-for-profit independent initiative promoting virtualized IP networks.
Text by Chris McFadyen