AT&T and IBM have announced the creation of a new, jointly delivered global cloud service for businesses. The combined effort is intended to address many of the issues enterprises have with cloud-based computing and storage, especially security.
The service combines AT&T's virtual private networking with IBM's SmartCloud Enterprise+, along with technology from AT&T Labs that the companies describe as "breakthrough." The offering, targeted at Fortune 1000 companies, will be launched early next year. Pricing has not yet been announced.
The innovative technology from AT&T Labs is designed to tightly integrate the security protections of AT&T's VPN with those of IBM's cloud resources. The companies said that the AT&T technology dynamically allocates networking resources to computing resources and automates functions that would otherwise need to be done manually. The result is a rapid scalability to support fluctuating demand, such as might be experienced by an online retailer before, during and after a holiday period.
Andy Geisse, CEO of AT&T Business Solutions, said in a statement that the companies "are delivering a new, network-enabled cloud service that marries the security and speed of AT&T's global network with the control and management capabilities of IBM's enterprise cloud."
IBM's SmartCloud Enterprise+ is an IBM Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) that has been optimized for enterprise needs, and the company said it offers the private cloud advantage of choosing dedicated physical servers and storage while providing the scalable flexibility of a public cloud. It provides private clouds, IaaS, Platform-as-a-Service, Software-as-a-Service, and consulting and implementation services.
Erich Clementi, senior vice president for IBM Global Technology Services, told news media that, "as more organizations realize that cloud can be secure, easily managed, and a key part of their business strategy, cloud will quickly evolve as a tool for innovation rather than just for infrastructure."
The new service's features include customization options for specific customer needs, committed service-level agreements, over 70 automated built-in security functions, and security measures that include wired and wireless devices authenticated to a customer's VPN.
Charles King, an analyst with industry research firm Pund-IT, described the new joint effort as "really, really interesting."
He noted that smaller businesses have been quickly adapting to public cloud offerings, such as Amazon and Microsoft Azure. But at the enterprise level, King said, "there's a lot of hesitancy, primarily because of security issues," including whether a company's data is saved in a shared infrastructure and whether public networks are used to transmit and receive data.
King said that the IBM/AT&T venture is "intriguing because it leverages IBM's cloud service, which has been built with enterprise security in mind, and couples it with AT&T's highly secure network." He characterized AT&T's network as "about as secure a public network as you can get."