SD-WAN, Next-Gen Branches, DevOps and More: AT&T Summit 2018

SD-WAN, Next-Gen Branches, DevOps and More: AT&T Summit 2018

Not just a box: Firewall, router, SD-WAN, and WAN optimizer!

AT&T’s Universal CPE

It’s always fun seeing something you’ve helped with reach fruition. So I was thrilled yesterday at the AT&T Summit to finally see the universal CPE (uCPE) device. AT&T has made the uCPE  a centerpiece of its Flexware in-net SD-WAN solution.

Two years ago, when the device was in the conceptual stages, Nemertes provided guidance. We shared current “paid rates” for MPLS and Internet services (rates that enterprise customers are actually paying, discounts and all). And we discussed adoption drivers and trends for our enterprise clients and others when it comes to SD-WAN and other WAN services. (For an up-to-date version of our WAN economics data and research study see here.)

That guidance proved to be quite timely. 92% off the 309 participants in our recent study said they’re evaluating or moving to SD-WAN. The majority are using SD-WAN in addition to, rather than replacing, MPLS. My colleague John Burke notes, though, that  a substantial minority are considering a migration away from MPLS over time.

In any event, it was fun to see the uCPE “in the flesh” so to speak. The device supports three different virtual machine (VM) flavors of firewall (Fortinet, Checkpoint, and Palo Alto). It boasts  two routing options (Cisco and Juniper). And there’s SD-WAN software (VMWare/VeloCloud) and WAN optimization (Riverbed). I couldn’t help but take a photo of the device, somewhat to the consternation of the AT&T engineer running demos.

AT&T Summit 2018: Selected Highlights

The photo wasn’t all I took away from the event. In its second year, the event was star-studded as always, featuring Reese Witherspoon, Tony Blair, Anderson Cooper, and Malcolm Gladwell, among many others. Concerts featured Billy Idol and Gwen Stefani (I guess AT&T knows the Gen-X demographics of its customers!)

But to me the real rock stars were the participants—telecom and technology professionals from some of the world’s largest companies, many of whom are clients (it was a kick to run into folks in the various sessions).

Speaking of sessions, I participated in two.

DevOps and the Net

The first was a panel session, DevOps and Agile: Enable Rapid Network Evolution for Digital Transformation, moderated by AT&T director of innovation and strategy Rashid Quereshi and featuring Robin Harwani, Global Solution Architecture Lead, Amazon Web Services, Lily Prasad, AT&T Assistant Vice President – SDN Operations Systems Engineering in addition to me.

We had a great time discussing the successes, challenges, and lessons learned by large companies (including Amazon, AT&T, and Nemertes clients) when it comes to integrating infrastructure into a DevOps approach.

The Next-Generation Branch

With Todd Krautkremer, Cradlepoint CMO, and stuffed friend…

The second was a fireside chat with Cradlepoint CMO Todd Krautkremer on The New WANscape: Connecting People, Places and Things Everywhere.

Our two main takeaways:

First: The next-generation branch office might not be an office, or even a branch—it could be anything from a pop-up store to a sensor on the side of a cow (which explains why Todd is holding a small stuffed steer in the photo.)

Second: Enterprise organizations need to be rethinking connectivity to, security of, and management for this next-generation branch office now—and advanced 4G and 5G wireless will be a big piece of that next-generation vision and architecture.

All in all, it was an action-packed event, and one I’m looking forward to for next year!