How to get a chance to present your Augmented Network solutions at AT&T Park
Networks may not seem like the most interesting technical subject to conquer at an event like the AT&T Shape Challenge. However, if you look at the profound impacts that the move to 3G and LTE networks had on what devices could do you can see how it led to the proliferation of essential applications on mobile devices. If we can stream videos, music, and access large files in the cloud using these networks, you have to wonder what future connectivity growth will lead to.
AT&T has a vision for a network that goes beyond connecting two points — a network with ever-growing intelligence and capabilities. In the Augmented Networks category, we are looking for a solution to a network or content delivery challenge, whether it’s mobile, satellite, Wi-Fi, or wireline. We’re calling it augmented networks because of the increasing number of connectivity modes, and we are interested in all of them.
One obvious area is Software Defined Networks (SDN), an area where AT&T has been a leader. In simple terms, SDN uses software on open hardware to replace a functionality that used to be done with expensive hardware. From a network operations perspective, this approach makes it easier to install upgrades or add capacity (such as the AT&T Network on Demand offer).
What does this mean for the Augmented Networks Shape Challenge? AT&T is looking to use open source software, and SDN starts with Network Function Virtualization. When you think about any VM, it consists of blocks of code in subsystems. An SDN is flexible as is the case with any cloud instance making it easier to optimize resources. Background on relevant open source software work can be found at the Open Compute Project or OpenDayLight.
So what kind of functions are of interest for these subsystems? In reviewing a blog from our network team, you’ll see that these could be virtualizing open line terminals or the broadband network gateways. We are looking for any creative solutions. AT&T uses a customized YANG design tool to contribute to the open source efforts, so this could be a plug-in to some of that work. We are also active with OPNFV, which just released an open source NFV platform called ARNO that is another opportunity area.
What Can Be Done with Microservices
Related to SDN is Microservices. One challenge with just a VM approach is that it might require a new OS that needs to be managed, which will require greater computing power. To resolve that, you can use containers that are dedicated software compartments that run directly on the server OS making it run more efficiently. Microservices connect containers and access resources. It is a set of module services to run a process or provide communications towards some goal.
We are looking for Microservices to enable connections across multiple containers that can activate virtual network functions on an as-needed basis. In this area, you may want to think about optimizing content delivery, improving M2M communications, or building an application distribution system. We are interested in standards here, as well — AT&T is part of the Open Container Initiative and the Cloud Native Computing Foundation.
Virtual Reality (VR) or Augmented Reality (AR) Delivery are also areas that could benefit from this challenge. VR/AR devices are on the verge of becoming mainstream. A big challenge will be providing the ability to seamlessly stream the large files required to drive rich, immersive, 360-degree experiences. These files can potentially be 10GB at a minimum. We want to support and develop technologies that help with the creation, optimization, and delivery of VR/AR content while also encouraging widespread VR/AR adoption. We know there must be some innovative ideas being discovered, and we would love to see them.
4 Key Judging Considerations
How are we judging this category? We will be as objective as possible using these four criteria:
- Overall creativity demonstrating an unexpected and fresh approach to an existing challenge. We will have experts familiar with these technologies comparing prototype submissions to existing technology.
- Technological depth and originality that pushes beyond existing technical boundaries. This criteria is not just about volumes of code, but about the depth of work and the power of the software to address the issue.
- Demonstrated ability to solve an existing category challenge. This is meant to factor in the impact the solution could have in the particular area.
- If/how your solution utilizes AT&T technologies. AT&T has technology in several areas and connects a variety of devices. We’re interested in seeing how you use those technologies.
Open to US residents of majority age. Enter by 5/6/16. Void where prohibited. Subject to official rules available here.
For more articles on AR, VR, and all things video, see our new AT&T Video and VR site.