Cloud Services

AT&T NetBond Getting Amazon Ties

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."

See what other telecom players are doing in the cloud services space on our services channel here at Light Reading.

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

Phil_Britt 10/2/2014 | 5:13:53 PM
Re: Giving customers what they want From my understanding of discussions with bankers, Amazon will dynamically move data from server to server based on a variety of factors. Due to financial regulations, financial institutions need to know where their critical data (account balances, credits, debits, etc.) is domiciled at any time. also, that data needs to be domiciled in the U.S.
kq4ym 10/2/2014 | 4:48:28 PM
Re: Giving customers what they want That's interesting. I didn't know there were regulation problems in the banking industry for those who might want to use Amazon. One would think Amazon would try to get a work around for that since there would be a huge probable marketing campaign that could be launched to get those banks on AMS.
Phil_Britt 10/2/2014 | 10:26:01 AM
Re: Giving customers what they want Even though some companies are fearful of using the cloud, even some that are most fearful -- financial institutions -- are moving there. However, they won't use Amazon because there's no good way to track where the data is at any given time and there are restrictions about using cloud facilities not physically in the U.S. So an increasing number of FIs are going to cloud services, but will only use certain cloud providers.
cnwedit 10/2/2014 | 9:41:44 AM
Re: Giving customers what they want Phil, 

You're right about that and as the story says, security concerns are a big reason companies are still fearful of using the cloud. So solving that is critical.
Phil_Britt 10/2/2014 | 9:05:17 AM
Re: Giving customers what they want I think the real key here is the secure connection, particularly after the recent breaches at Jimmy John's and Supervalu/Albertson's (again). As hacks continue, the importance of secure connections will continue to grow.
cnwedit 10/2/2014 | 8:24:24 AM
Re: Giving customers what they want They've realized - wisely - that they are way behind in the cloud game and only offering flexible connections to their own clouds isn't going to win over many customers. The network operator that does the best job of this kind of integration, particularly with Amazon, is going to retain/attract businesses more effectively.

What I think is interesting is how they are doing it - through standard APIs that they developed to partner which lead to an automated provisioning process. 

Clearly it still doesn't happen overnight, as it won't be available until 2015, but it does seem to be a sign of significant progess.
[email protected] 10/2/2014 | 8:21:26 AM
Giving customers what they want This is exactly what companies/customers want, isn't it? To be able to access the service they want through a trusted and secure connection? And to be able to mix and match the services they are using/paying for at any one time?

Things could actually be changing... I know AT&T isn't the first to do this but that fact that multipler major telcos are actively teaming up with the Web servcies giants to deliver a package can only be good.
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