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AT&T to work with Brocade in assuming Vyatta virtual router contracts

AT&T said it would continue supporting the Vyatta virtual router it has bought from Brocade. The service provider, however, won't take over all user contracts.

AT&T is promising a smooth transition for companies using the Vyatta virtual router the service provider recently...

acquired from Brocade Communications Systems. AT&T, however, does not plan to take over all customer contracts.

AT&T announced late last week that it would buy the Vyatta vRouter and related assets from Brocade, which chipmaker Broadcom plans to take over this year. Broadcom only wants Brocade's Fibre Channel and storage area networking line so the rest of the company is being sold in pieces.

AT&T plans to use vRouter within its data center and the customer premises equipment (CPE) AT&T uses in delivering managed network services, such as security and software-defined WANs. At the same time, AT&T promises to continue supporting the product line for current users.

Enterprises use the Vyatta virtual router as a hardware replacement in virtualized data centers. Service providers use the technology to support virtual network functions.

What happens to Vyatta customers?

AT&T said in a statement sent to TechTarget it would take over some Vyatta contracts and act as a Brocade subcontractor for others. AT&T declined to make someone available to provide details on the impact the contract changes would have on Vyatta virtual router users.

"We're committed to making this as smooth of a transition as possible for all customers and have a transition services agreement in place with Brocade to help with the changeover," the company said.

The Vyatta purchase, however, is more about technology and hiring talent than about customer acquisition. AT&T will get Vyatta software under development, as well as its patents and patent applications. Also, the service provider expects most Brocade employees in California and the United Kingdom to join the company.

AT&T expects the acquisition to close in early summer. The company did not release financial details.

Moving away from proprietary hardware

The Vyatta acquisition is part of AT&T's overall strategy to replace proprietary switches and routers with software running on commodity x86 hardware. The shift is expected to make network services more responsive to customer demands.

At the same time, AT&T is reducing its dependence on traditional networking vendors, such as Cisco and Juniper Networks. The move toward software by AT&T and other service providers has contributed to a slowdown in traditional hardware sales.

"They are trying to wrest some control back [from hardware vendors]," said Dan Conde, an analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group based in Milford, Mass.

In March, AT&T completed a trial of switches built with commodity hardware and open source software capable of managing data traffic across the company's network. By the end of the year, AT&T expects to have 55% of its network controlled by software. The company plans to increase that number to 75% by 2020.

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