AT&T to Test Wholesale NetBond

Virtualization push will let carrier develop resale options faster through its Partner Solutions group.

May 12, 2016

4 Min Read
AT&T to Test Wholesale NetBond

CHICAGO -- International Telecoms Week -- One of the benefits AT&T will reap from its aggressive push to virtualize its network functions is the ability to offer any new capabilities across a broader range of customers more quickly, and that includes taking products to the wholesale market faster as well.

This year, for instance, AT&T Partner Solutions will begin testing a wholesale application of its NetBond product for those participating in its AT&T Partner Exchange. NetBond is used to provide dynamic secure access to multiple clouds.

Brooks McCorcle, president of AT&T Partner Solutions, admits in an interview this week that the carrier won't resell every new thing it develops through its wholesale unit -- some things will be used to differentiate AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s own services. But her organization is eager to create new wholesale products wherever it can to let its customers take advantage of the benefits of virtualization, which will help them get newer services to market quicker. (See A Peek Inside AT&T Partner Solutions.)

"Providing secure access and dynamic bandwidth is what we need moving forward," she tells Light Reading. "We recognized that we can't handle that 117.4 petabytes that crosses AT&T's network every day -- and that will grow 10 times by 2020 -- in a hardware-based environment. The way I see it evolving is that it starts in the retail space, directly serving enterprises, but then we think about moving it to wholesale."

Figure 1: AT&T's Brooks McCorcle McCorcle, the president of AT&T Partner Solutions, speaks on an ITW panel Monday on Advancing Women in Telco. McCorcle, the president of AT&T Partner Solutions, speaks on an ITW panel Monday on Advancing Women in Telco.

It's not likely AT&T Partner Exchange will have a version of NetBond to sell this year, but it will start the process, testing the functionality with "friendlies" to see if it is something they want. Enterprises use NetBond to more easily set up secure connections to multiple clouds in the public and private cloud space.

"We want to involve them in productizing it in a way that is responsive to their needs," McCorcle says. "It's a journey -- it is not going to happen overnight. But we think there will be more demand for this kind of functionality."

Learn more about virtual applications at our upcoming Big Communications Event in Austin, Texas, May 24-25. You can register now.

Once the basic virtualization process is complete, and many functions are software-based, it will become "easier for us to make the leap with wholesale," she says. "But we still need to decide what we want to keep as a retail offering and what do we want to offer up as wholesale, and then focus on what the wholesale market wants."

The expectation is that wholesale partners who resell AT&T's services will want greater flexibility, the chance to offer dynamic services that flex up and down on demand and pricing options as well, she says. But the actual form that takes will be driven by the AT&T Partner Solutions' process, which itself has adopted Agile IT methods. As that business moves into the AT&T Integrated Cloud, the ability to respond more quickly to its customers will grow.

One thing McCorcle's group is doing now is bringing its customers into the Agile work flow -- she calls it "shrinking the space between customer and coder" to get their feedback earlier in the cycle.

That is part of the effort currently underway to allow AT&T Partner Solutions to respond more quickly to its customer base, which includes wholesalers, resellers and agents. One of her goals at the ITW show, known as the coming together of the wholesale market with almost 7,000 folks on hand, was to demonstrate AT&T's new flexibility and treat its customers to some fun as well, in a night at Chicago's House of Blues. (See Mentor Monday: AT&T's Brooks McCorcle.)

"We are doing things differently," she says. "We are building an API platform that lets them electronically connect to us, and we have a very keen eye on enablement."

That platform, pulled together in 18 months using Agile IT methods, now has handled 17.7 million API calls.

The enablement effort includes a suite of products and support around wireless, that starts with background information for executives to help in their decision-making and includes an enablement playbook. Third parties can now create their own Internet of Things platforms, set up their through the AT&T Control Center on the devices of their choice. They can then run IoT services over the AT&T network.

The organization continues to conduct technical training and certification programs to teach others how to market and sell its products and has added an order status tool for its partners that lets them check orders dynamically in real time.

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

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