AT&T today added Amazon Web Services to the list of cloud providers accessible via its AT&T NetBond service, a scalable secure network offering designed to match network flexibility to cloud flexibility. The two companies are working on an integrated offer due out in 2015.
Amazon Web Services Inc. already has strong ties to telecom providers -- Verizon Enterprise Solutions , XO Communications Inc. and Level 3 Communications Inc. (NYSE: LVLT), among others, have announced direct connections to AWS cloud services. Given Amazon's massive market size -- five times the size of its top 14 competitors combined, says Gartner Inc. -- and the rise in hybrid cloud environments, such connections make sense. (See Verizon Adds AWS to Private Secure Cloud Interconnect, XO Communications Expands AWS Direct Connect Capabilities and Level 3 Cloud Connects Digital Realty.)
Both Verizon and Level 3 say their connections are also on-demand and scalable, as NetBond is, although in Verizon's case, the AWS connection is only available in Northern Virginia and Silicon Valley.
By adding an integrated connection to AWS -- expected to go live next year -- AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) NetBond will now have on-demand, scalable connections to a broader array of cloud providers, including IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM), Computer Sciences Corp. (CSC) (NYSE: CSC), Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT), Equinix Inc. (Nasdaq: EQIX), Salesforce.com Inc. , HP Inc. (NYSE: HPQ), and more. (See AT&T Lands Another Cloud Collaborator, AT&T Brings Salesforce into Cloud Ecosystem, AT&T Adds HP to Cloud Ecosystem, AT&T, IBM Team on Private Secure Cloud Connections and AT&T Tightens NetBond to IBM SoftLayer.)
One reason for the rapid expansion is that NetBond is based on AT&T's internally developed SDN capabilities and uses applications programming interfaces (APIs) that AT&T developed internally as well to expose network capabilities to any partner, even one the size of AWS, says Jon Summers, senior vice president, growth platforms, AT&T. (See AT&T Spotlights Early SDN Efforts and SDN Powers AT&T, IBM On-Demand Cloud Connections.)
"We have a pretty standard deployment solution that we have developed -- we have taken our virtual private network and exposed the control plane through a set of APIs that we expose to partner or potentially the customer, so the integration is pretty straightforward and enables full automation of network provisioning functions in addition to integrating with AWS cloud," he says. "It's not any more difficult to integrate with Amazon than with anyone else."
AT&T considers its patented technology for automating the service to be one of its points of differentiation, Summers adds. A customer can set up their initial NetBond connection into the cloud in less than 24 hours and subsequent changes to network services can occur in minutes.
Customers buy a committed level of bandwidth but then can enable their usage to burst as necessary to match cloud computing activity and pay for the extra bandwidth on a usage basis. They don't need new equipment on premises and because the connections use AT&T's VPN capability, the connections to the cloud aren't exposed to the open Internet or subject to distributed denial of service attacks, Summers says.
AT&T isn't seeing an enterprise rush to the cloud, because of concerns about security and predictability of network performance, he adds. The company expects that to change as it can prove the ease of use and cost effectiveness of integrated network-cloud solutions.
"Where they are adopting cloud, businesses are adopting more of a hybrid model -- for certain apps, the data is in their data center, for some, they are working with leading infrastructure as a service providers and for software-as-a-service, they may be working with salesforce.com or others," he says. "We started with NetBond connections to our cloud but we've now built this ecosystem of partners that makes it easier for companies to do hybrid cloud."
— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading