Cloud services offer alluring promises of flexibility, agility, speed and cost savings for businesses; however, security concerns still loom over mission-critical data traveling overa public network, hindering cloud adoption. Addressing this concern, we created AT&T NetBond, a service that taps software-defined networking technologies to help enable businesses to bring the cloud within their VPN network – avoiding exposure to the public Internet and helping to mitigate security and performance risks. To bring this to life, AT&T created an ecosystem of cloud service providers, and just today we announced that Salesforce is joining that lineup.
While the innovation behind AT&T NetBond is helping to enable business to reap the benefits cloud services offer, there’s a deeper innovation story to be told. It shows the promise of our vision for a User Defined Network Cloud and the role software-defined networking (SDN) will play in rapidly deploying more innovative services like AT&T NetBond in the future.
The technologies at the heart of AT&T NetBond were invented within AT&T Labs. With the burgeoning opportunity to provide access to cloud-based resources, Labs researchers invented and implemented patented technologies that were built on cutting-edge networking research.
One of those technologies is an early form of (SDN). It’s called IRSCP – or Intelligent Routing Service Control Point. To understand IRSCP, it is important to understand how network traffic gets to its destination.
When traffic enters the network, the router looks at the destination of the data to decide how it should leave the network, and then sends the traffic on its way. However, every router that the data touches makes this decision independently and has access to only partial information about the network. This can lead to sub-optimal routing decisions.
To illustrate this, imagine that you’re navigating traffic, and you can see only up to the next stoplight. The decision you make about the best way to get to your destination will be based on limited information However, with mapping and navigation software that have knowledge of the entire road system, you can decide the most efficient path to take based on congestion or construction along the way.
IRSCP provides that same capability. The routers with partial information no longer need to run the decision process. Instead, the onus of making these decisions falls to IRSCP, which relies on a complete view of the network to decide the most efficient way to direct traffic to its final destination.
All of this is possible because we separated the decision-making functionality – or software control – from the routing hardware. But IRSCP enables something more. It provides unprecedented flexibility in routing traffic, opening doors to an array of new and sophisticated services. In the case of AT&T NetBond, IRSCP helps enable businesses to seamlessly integrate their private VPN network with their applications and compute and storage instances in a cloud provider’s data centers – all under their own control and in a highly secure and dynamic fashion.
This is just one groundbreaking technology along the path to SDN, and AT&T’s vision for the UDNC will take this to a whole new level. At Labs we’re continuing to expand the role SDN and other technologies, like virtualization, will play in allowing us to rapidly deploy innovative, network-based services, like NetBond, tailored to customers’ requirements.
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