IBM, AT&T Team on New Cloud Service for Business

IBM and AT&T announced an agreement to deliver a new network-enabled cloud service that taps AT&T’s private networking technology and IBM’s SmartCloud Enterprise+ cloud offering.

IBM and AT&T have announced an agreement to deliver a highly secure, “network-enabled” cloud service that uses private networks rather than the public Internet.

In an Oct. 9 announcement, the companies said they are combining AT&T virtual private networking and IBM SmartCloud Enterprise+ cloud capabilities with new technology from AT&T Labs to create the new cloud service. Targeted to Fortune 1000 companies globally, the service will be offered in early 2013 as a new option for enterprises that are deploying cloud solutions that demand high levels of security and availability. Many businesses often cite security as a key inhibitor to cloud computing adoption.

“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,” said Erich Clementi, senior vice president of IBM Global Technology Services, in a statement. “We believe this new service from two recognized leaders in cloud computing provides a compelling way for large organizations to exploit cloud’s transformational power.”

Users of the new service will connect to IBM cloud computing resources across AT&T’s network to tap into the security protections of both, allowing customers to quickly and reliably shift information or applications between their own data centers or private clouds and this new cloud service. This is important for businesses that want the flexibility of the cloud but also need to protect applications and data as they move between data centers and wired or wireless computing devices, such as tablets, smartphones, personal computers, retail kiosks or other machine-to-machine devices.

For example, a financial services company using the new service could move and manage critical customer data between its and IBM's cloud data centers without the data ever leaving the security protections of the virtual private network.

AT&T’s technology dynamically allocates networking resources to computing resources, automating functions that are often performed manually. This allows the network and compute resources to rapidly scale or contract in tandem to support the fluctuating demand on systems that an online retailer might experience before, during and after the holiday buying season; or that a large employer might experience before, during and after their annual employee health benefits enrollment period.

Other features of the new cloud service include a variety of customization options to meet specific customer needs; committed service-level agreements (SLAs) aligned to business and usage requirements to increase accountability for response time and availability; more than 70 automated built-in security functions; and high levels of security extended to wired and wireless devices authenticated to the customer’s virtual private network.

“AT&T and IBM 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,” said Andy Geisse, CEO of AT&T Business Solutions. “This new service gives companies yet another way to innovate, create new value, and transform their businesses and industries.”

IBM SmartCloud Enterprise+, IBM’s infrastructure as a service offering, is a key element of the cloud service. As a managed and hosted cloud environment, it offers many advantages of a private cloud, such as choice of dedicated physical servers and storage, but also adds the scalable flexibility of a public cloud. Customers using the new service will have access to IBM SmartCloud Enterprise+’s secure managed services and be able to run processes in both public and private cloud models.

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.