Cloud enablement

AT&T Cloud Offer Rains Apps

AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) has been marching to its own drummer in the cloud space, avoiding the high-profile acquisitions that have occurred in the sector and focusing on internal cloud development since its 2006 purchase of USInternetworking, before "cloud" was even a hype infant. (See AT&T to Buy ASP.)

Its recent announcement of platform-as-a-service capabilities continue that trend. AT&T will still be selling infrastructure cloud services, but its focus on applications is intended to draw more enterprises and independent software developers into the cloud arena.

Enterprises are still trying to determine where and if cloud services enable them to operate more efficiently, and aren't as likely to move applications that are already set up and running on existing infrastructure onto a cloud platform, says Steve Caniano, VP hosting and cloud services, AT&T Business Solutions. By giving businesses tools that let them quickly turn up an application on AT&T's cloud infrastructure, the service provider believes enterprises, as well as independent software vendors, can put cloud functionality to use more rapidly.

The new AT&T's platform-as-a-service offer includes a development and deployment platform with Web tools, customizable templates, 50 pre-built applications and development tools for mobilizing apps.

"This is a complementary capability that enhances our cloud services," Caniano says. "Many providers have been playing in the infrastructure space -- we are trying to move beyond that. Bringing apps to bear as a capability in the cloud is something we do think is the next logical step."

Using a Web portal, ISVs, IT pros or non-technologists can create applications and deploy them on AT&T's cloud infrastructure more quickly. The expectation is that this capability will particularly help in the mobile space.

"This certainly enhanced our value proposition for mobile apps, which ties nicely to our mobility business," Caniano says. "Apps are often designed for mobile access, which leverages our core business of networking wireline to wireless seamlessly and building capabilities to allow our customers to leverage those networks. We are building a cloud infrastructure to go across our networks."

The network is still the key, and the new applications will run on AT&T's cloud infrastructure and AT&T's network. And AT&T continues to work on developing high-end cloud services, particularly those tied to specific network segments, such as the health care industry.

But the application focus represents one step in another direction, acknowledging that enterprises aren't rushing to move their existing applications into the cloud, but may be willing to look at how new apps can take advantage of outsourced infrastructure.

"We are still early in this market and this is still an evolution -- enterprises are not migrating significant amounts of existing applications that serve their business well into the cloud, just for the sake of doing that," Caniano says. "There needs to be a good reason for doing that -- a major cost savings or new agility or flexibility."

But businesses will look at turning up a new app in the cloud or consider cloud options when they hit a technology refresh cycle, and giving them more options for doing that makes sense to AT&T.

— Carol Wilson, Chief Editor, Events, Light Reading

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