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AT&T Launches Microservice Supplier Program with IBM

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10/30/2017

DALLAS - The old way of building enterprise apps needs to change as network demands explode. AT&T thinks microservices are the future of software development. And AT&T is not alone.

AT&T is launching its microservices supplier program to offer a new approach to delivering business functionality. It means faster capacity updates and pushing them out at the speed of the internet.

IBM is joining AT&T to collaborate on microservices design and development. Building on the two companies' long-term strategic relationship, IBM will focus on creating microservices that will modernize applications and transform business processes, including sales, ordering and enterprise data. This work will enable higher performing back-end processing with minimal downtime, allowing for the deployment of fast and easy access to new services and capabilities.

At the launch of the AT&T program and building on the two companies’ long-term strategic relationship, IBM will collaborate with AT&T to design, develop and deploy microservices that will transform AT&T’s business backend processes. IBM’s creation of microservices across sales, ordering, and enterprise data will enhance and modernize AT&T’s mission critical systems. This enables higher-performing backend processing with minimal downtime while allowing the whole business to adapt quickly to changing market dynamics through the deployment of new fast and easy to access services and capabilities.

“Our software journey has focused on virtualizing our network functions to give more speed and flexibility than the traditional hardware model,” said Melissa Arnoldi, president, AT&T Technology and Operations. “We’re now looking at the 2,200+ apps in our IT system. And we’re starting to break them up into microservices to create agility, speed, and scalability that wasn’t possible before. Microservices are at the very core of our vision for the future of our network.”

What are microservices?

Microservices are an architectural style in which enterprise apps are made up of independent services working together. In other words, these apps are divided into small “blocks” or microservices, with each “block” supporting a specific business function, such as streamlined workflows or mobile payments. Take a mobile payment function, for example. If it needs an upgrade or a new feature, it’s now possible to make changes without overhauling the whole app. Microservices can also be combined in multiple ways to develop tailored solutions for internal and external needs. This allows us to offer new capabilities faster than ever before.

While AT&T is in the early stages of its microservice development, the company h as already seen the power they unleash. AT&T recently announced Acumos, an artificial intelligence (AI) platform that makes it easy to build, share and deploy AI applications, built with microservices.

AT&T is also using microservices internally. One example is called Work Flow. AT&T's field technicians routinely faced complex and disparate work flows while addressing customer issues. To solve this, the team created a microservice that pulls relevant resources together and walks a technician through the proper installation or repair steps, using a consistent yet customized approach.

Another example is one which established a single mechanism to create, manage and track contracts across business products, eliminating the many cumbersome and disparate processes that were previously in use. The impact of microservices on internal operations has led to a savings of several million dollars per year. Many teams can now introduce or recall many services in under 5 minutes.

Microservices are also being used within ONAP, the brains of AT&T's Software Defined Network (SDN). ONAP makes delivering virtual network functions to internal and external customers faster than ever before.

And microservices are critical to AT&T's next generation network vision. It will bring SDN together with big data and super-fast connectivity, as well as make protected data-sharing communities possible. One example of this is healthcare professionals will be able to work together on patient treatment plans while keeping identities safe. Many of this new network’s reusable, packaged and pluggable software capabilities will be built using microservices, as well as other key initiatives like our evolution to 5G and cybersecurity.

AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)

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