AT&T & AWS: A Powerful Combo

Web giant and network giant combining forces on cloud services, security and IoT.

October 6, 2016

3 Min Read
AT&T & AWS: A Powerful Combo

AT&T and Amazon Web Services are forging a tighter partnership to develop joint cloud, Internet of Things and security solutions, targeting enterprises and combining AT&T's network with the AWS cloud. AT&T said the pair are targeting enterprise cloud, threat management and scaling of Internet of Things offerings. (See AT&T, AWS Forge Strategic Partnership.)

Today's announcement is the latest in a series by AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), including one on AT&T building tighter ties to IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM)'s Softlayer cloud, made yesterday, and one on the AT&T SD-WAN service launch. But the AWS news packs the biggest punch, as it signals an aggressive push on multiple fronts to develop the new services AT&T has been promising to offer over its increasingly virtualized network infrastructure. (See IBM to Use AT&T Flexware.)

"This is confirmation of a clear trend of the communications service provider community aligning and partnering with the web-scale Internet companies," says Patrick Donegan, Heavy Reading lead analyst. "We are seeing more and more evidence in our surveys of the CSPs taking Amazon and its ilk increasingly seriously as a partner." (See Google, Facebook Gaining Network Equipment Clout and The Impact of the Web-Scale Giants.)

Amazon Web Services Inc. was already part of AT&T's NetBond, its direct cloud connection service, but this new initiative is intended to make it easier for enterprises to combine networking and cloud -- and consume more of both, presumably -- and to provide performance, security and mobility features as well. The NetBond ecosystem is already growing, as AT&T reports a fourfold increase in connections and an eightfold increase in traffic this year over last, but integrated services with performance and security guarantees are likely to increase that growth. (See AT&T NetBond Getting Amazon Ties.)

Combining forces on threat management makes tremendous sense, says Donegan, who actually predicted such a combination between a network operator and web-scale company in a June 2016 report on managed security services.

Want to know more about security strategies? Check out our Service Provider and Enterprise Security Strategies event scheduled for December 1.

Amazon, Google and other cloud companies have been building up the security expertise within their data centers by necessity, he notes, and they have started offering security services to their data center customers, including firewalls and intrusion prevention services.

"They have developed tremendous security within the data center but what they don't have is WAN visibility and capability -- they don't know what is going on in the WAN, whereas AT&T has developed that capability," Donegan says. "Together they can offer a comprehensive security solution and it makes absolute and total sense that they would do that, which is why we predicted it some time ago."

On the IoT front, AT&T's IoT-connected sensors and devices will be preconfigured to securely send data into the AWS Cloud, for storage and analytics, thus creating a managed cloud platform service to support the current explosion of connected devices. More importantly, that solution is able to rapidly scale to billions of devices, given the cloud footprint of AWS and AT&T's global network.

CSPs such as AT&T are viewed as being out in front in developing IoT capabilities and services, Donegan says, but what Amazon brings is "data analytics -- it's what they excel at."

The Heavy Reading analyst credits AT&T with being smart enough to recognize the power of a partnership with Amazon on the IoT side, instead of attempting to do that piece on its own.

More analysis on the intersection of web-scale and telecom companies can be found in the 60-page Heavy Reading report, Webscale Internet Companies: New Drivers Of The Network Equipment Market.

— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading

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