AT&T's Virtual Network Functions Services Becomes FlexWare

The new branding from the carrier comes with more device options and a new network security function from Palo Alto Networks.

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AT&T is continuing to expand the range of its software-defined network initiative by adding more capabilities to its virtualized services offerings.

Officials with the top-tier carrier said users of AT&T's FlexWare equipment—formerly known as Network Functions on Demand—can now run multiple virtual network functions (VNFs) on a single FlexWare device and then deploy those functions in disparate countries. The network functions can be managed through an online portal.

The goal is to give customers more options when looking at FlexWare, according to Roman Pacewicz, senior vice president of offer management and service integration for AT&T Business Solutions.

"AT&T FlexWare offers businesses flexible networking options," Pacewicz said in a statement. "One-size-fits-all doesn't allow businesses to compete. Our software-centric ecosystem allows businesses to start with one set of network functions and add as they go."

In this case, they can run multiple VNFs, such as firewalls, load balancing, routing and intrusion detection and prevention, on a single FlexWare appliance. At the same time, the carrier is offering options to address businesses of all sizes, officials said. FlexWare equipment can now come in two form factors—a new small device that runs up to two network functions applications, and the current larger devices, which can run up to four. This gives customers the ability to mix and match the devices they use and the applications that run on them.

AT&T first introduced its Network Function on Demand offerings in July, around the same time rival Verizon unveiled its Virtual Network Services packages.

At the same time, AT&T is adding Palo Alto Networks' security platform to its lineup of VNFs that customers can run on their FlexWare devices, and is offering FlexWare in more than 150 countries and territories.

The FlexWare push is part of AT&T's larger Network on Demand effort to use software-defined networking (SDN) and network-functions virtualization (NFV) to embrace a software-centric approach to its infrastructure. AT&T officials expect that by 2020, 75 percent of the carrier's network will be virtualized. Since launching Network on Demand last year, more than 1,200 businesses have adopted solutions from the platform, officials said.