AT&T Synaptic Hosting is the telephone carrier's new brand of cloud computing infrastructure services and utility computing, which first will host the U.S. Olympic Committee Web site. The AT&T cloud initiative comes at the same time IBM, Amazon and others are building their own cloud infrastructures.
AT&T is launching its own cloud computing services that will put the phone carrier in direct competition with the likes of IBM, Google and Amazon.
The AT&T Synaptic Hosting is part of a $1 billion initiative
that will see the carrier build five large-scale Internet data centers
in the United States, Europe and Asia that will form the backbone of a
new cloud computing service. The first test of this new cloud network will start when AT&T hosts the U.S. Olympic Committee's Web site
during the upcoming Summer Games in Beijing.
While AT&T is calling its new services "utility computing,"
it seems clear that the carrier is ready to offer its own brand of
cloud computing services for enterprises and Web 2.0 businesses.
The Aug. 5 announcement from AT&T is another sign that large
companies, including non-IT vendors, are willing to invest significant
amounts of money into what is still an up-and-coming technology. In
just the past week, IBM announced that it will pour $360 million into a new cloud computing center in North Carolina
, while Intel, Hewlett-Packard and Yahoo announced a pact
that will offer research and development of cloud technology.
In addition to AT&T and IBM selling a cloud computing
infrastructure to customers, Web 2.0 companies such as Google, Amazon
and Yahoo are building their own cloud centers to host the growing
reliance on the Web and Web applications by enterprises and general
Dell, yet another would-be player in the emerging cloud computing space
has gone so far as to attempt to trademark the term "cloud computing"
with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The application is pending.
While many observers believe that a true cloud computing model is anywhere from three to 10 years away from being a reality, IBM, Google and others have rushed to try and position their particular technologies ahead of competitors.
At the heart of this technology is the promise of making large-scale
computing more efficient by allowing an enterprise to offload some or
all of its IT infrastructure to a hosting provider and then allow that
business to draw on applications and computing on demand through the
For a company such as AT&T, a cloud infrastructure could be sold
to the U.S. Olympic Committee to provide additional resources when
thousands of users are trying to access its Web site during the 2008
Olympics, or to a smaller retail company that needs additional capacity
during the holiday shopping season.
In a statement, AT&T claims it provides applications and
computing on demand through virtualized servers, along with storage and
management services, inside its own data centers. AT&T plans to use
the application management technology it acquired when it bought
USinternetworking in 2006. AT&T is also looking to provide an SAAS
(software as a service) model that will deliver applications from
Oracle, SAP and others to customers.
The cost for these services can range from $10 a month for small and
midsize businesses and up to $1 million a month for large enterprises.
"We have had
utility-style computing data centers and hosted offerings for years now... I don't
see what AT&T is offering here that qualifies as anything but a
utility-style, on-demand data center offering, and that is sort of what cloud
computing is" said Charles King, an analyst with Pund-IT Rsearch. "I think the
AT&T offering is interesting and it could be a way to bring more
traditional companies into this because the companies that have been going after
the cloud to begin with have been more Web 2.0, cutting-edge companies. Maybe
an old-time vendor like AT&T is the way to bring a broader, commercial audience
into what people are calling the cloud." Writing on the Gigaom blog
Stacey Higginbotham said AT&T does have advantage in the
emerging cloud computing space since the company will not only control
the servers and the data center, but also the network that sends the
data from the hosting facility to the desktop.
"The key advantage to AT&T's service is that it controls not
just the servers and the cloud, but it also owns the network that those
bits of data must traverse to get from the cloud to your computer,"
Higginbotham wrote. "That's a powerful proposition because it gives
AT&T one more potential point of failure that it can guarantee and
control. It also could lead the way for some interesting pricing
options given that AT&T will know exactly how much it costs for
each byte of storage and each compute cycle, but it also has the
wholesale costs of bandwidth."
Of the five data centers that AT&T is building, three will be in
the United States, including facilities in San Diego, Piscataway, N.J.,
and Annapolis, Md. The other two will be built in Amsterdam,
Netherlands, and Singapore.