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AT&T CEO Donovan Departs After Paving SDN Foundation

AT&T CEO Donovan leaves after paving the SDN Foundation
Matt Kapko

The CEO of AT&T Communications, John Donovan, will retire and leave his position in the operator as of October 1. Donovan joined the company as CTO in 2008 and has led the communications business for the past two years.

His departure follows a particularly busy summer in which Donovan played a key role in achieving important agreements with Microsoft and IBM to advance AT&T's push towards the cloud. It has also been a central figure in the operator's efforts around 5G, SDN and virtualization.

“No other non-CEO has changed the company as much as he did. He set the stage for SDN and launched 5G, "said Roger Entner, founder and principal badyst at Recon Analytics. “John is a visionary and how he implemented it. Now is the time for someone else to execute him and take him to the goal. "

Donovan has led major changes in AT&T, including plans to obtain software-defined control of 75% of its network operations by 2020; a 5G network that will be throughout the country in 12 months; and migrate most non-network workloads to the public cloud by 2024.

the multi-year agreement with Microsoft, which is reportedly valued at more than $ 2 billion, will bring Office 365 to the AT&T workforce and consolidate the infrastructure and operations of the AT&T data center in Microsoft Azure.

Leaving on high notes

"It has been an honor to lead AT&T Communications during an unprecedented period of innovation and investment in new technologies that is revolutionizing the way people connect with their worlds," Donovan said in a prepared statement. "All we have achieved is a credit to the talented women and men of AT&T, and their pbadion for serving our customers."

AT&T President and CEO Randall Stephenson described Donovan as an "excellent leader and technology visionary who helped boost AT&T leadership to connect customers, from our 5G, fiber and FirstNet developments, to new products and platforms, to set the global standard for software-defined networks. "

Who replaces Donovan in AT&T?

The general moment of Donovan's retirement is not a surprise, according to Entner, but the announcement indicates that Donovan made the decision on his own. "You can see that it goes on its terms because they haven't named a successor." Usually, when they throw it at you, they have a successor in mind, ”said Entner.

As for who could replace Donovan, Entner believes that five current AT&T executives are in the race: Lori Lee, CEO of AT&T Latin America and global marketing officer; Jeff McElfresh, president of AT&T Technology and Operations; Thaddeus Orroyo, CEO of AT&T Business; Rasesh Patel, senior executive vice president of AT&T Communications; and David Christopher, president of AT&T Mobility and Entertainment.

AT&T says it will soon announce a replacement for Donovan.

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