IBM Expands Cloud Relationship With AT&T

IBM expands its existing cloud partnership with AT&T, providing on-demand networking capabilities with AT&T FlexWare.

IBM logo

IBM and AT&T have announced an expansion of their longstanding relationship that takes advantage of each company's strengths including AT&T's FlexWare networking solution as well as IBM's cloud infrastructure and sales and marketing teams.

The expanded partnership will help customers with hybrid cloud and IT-as-a-service deployments, as IBM will now sell the FlexWare solution, Big Blue said.

AT&T FlexWare simplifies the set up and management of virtual network functions (VNFs) on a single device. The solution features both software-defined networking and network function virtualization technologies. With AT&T FlexWare, businesses can set up multiple VNFs, such as a router and a firewall, on a single FlexWare device and deploy them in different countries, AT&T said.

Formerly known as AT&T Network Functions on Demand, FlexWare is available globally through the AT&T Network on Demand platform.

By tapping into the expertise of IBM's sales and marketing teams, the two companies can extend their global reach. AT&T also will run applications on IBM's cloud infrastructure—taking advantage of the cognitive, analytics and security capabilities it affords, the company said.

"Working with AT&T, we continually are innovating in ways that not only meet our clients' business objectives, but also strengthen one of the industry's most powerful one-two punches," said Richard Patterson, general manager of Infrastructure Services at IBM, in a statement. "IBM will use these technologies to support the hybrid cloud evolution and deliver greater services to our clients."

In addition to making this offering available to its own customers, IBM has begun to roll out AT&T FlexWare in many of its own sites, Patterson said.

"By expanding our relationship with IBM, more customers will be able to take advantage of AT&T FlexWare that will adapt and grow with customers' business needs," said Steve McGaw, chief marketing officer at AT&T Business Solutions.

In related news, AT&T announced a multiyear, strategic alliance with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to deliver integrated solutions built on the two companies' respective cloud and networking capabilities. The solutions will span cloud networking, mobility, internet of things (IoT), security and analytics.

"Customers of all sizes are quickly migrating to the AWS Cloud to reduce their data center footprint, become more agile and take advantage of innovation in areas such as IoT, big data and analytics," said Terry Wise, vice president of Worldwide Partner Ecosystem at AWS, in a statement. "Advanced connectivity and network solutions are critical to enabling our customers to get the most out of our services."

According to the agreement, AT&T and AWS will focus on three key areas. One is to combine their expertise on security to help customers prevent, detect and respond to threats faster. Another is to make sure AT&T IoT-connected sensors and devices can seamlessly and more securely send data into the AWS Cloud. And a third is to further integrate AT&T NetBond with the AWS cloud so customers can get to their data in the cloud and back out without ever touching the public Internet, AT&T said.

NetBond is a cloud networking solution connecting customers securely to cloud services. The solution provides integration of a customer's AT&T multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) virtual private network (VPN) with various cloud service providers (CSPs) such as AWS.

"Together, AT&T and AWS can help streamline the leap to the cloud," said Mo Katibeh, senior vice president of Advanced Solutions at AT&T Business Solutions, in a statement. "We're helping businesses connect everything and anything to the cloud. More importantly, we're doing this so it can be simple, scalable and highly secure."

In other IBM cloud-related news, Big Blue earlier this week announced a five-year global partnership with Majesco, a provider of insurance software, consulting and services.

The partnership will help insurance carriers develop cognitive products and services on the IBM Cloud using IBM's Watson cognitive computing platform.

"The integration of IBM Cloud and cognitive capabilities with Majesco's market-leading core system for policy, billing and claims will allow for new, innovative products and services for insurers," said Ketan Mehta, co-founder and CEO of Majesco, in a statement. "This partnership underscores our commitment to accelerate new business services to our clients by providing them technology to transform their insurance business models."

Watson and its APIs, which run on the IBM Cloud, will enable insurance companies to use predictive analytics to better analyze, price and understand business risks based on the analysis of information from new data sources. Gleaning insight from Watson's cognitive capabilities also will enable insurance companies to provide more personalized and advisory services to customers. In addition, Watson's capabilities will help the companies reduce risks from fraudulent claims.

"IBM is making a strategic shift to unlock new value for clients through platform solutions—industry by industry—that combine IBM Cloud, our cognitive capabilities, new offerings we're building and the specialized capabilities of ecosystems providers," said Bridget van Kralingen, senior vice president of IBM Industry Platforms, in a statement.

Van Kralingen said IBM's insurance clients are facing the same challenges that many companies in the midst of digital transformation are facing, including the rapid growth of data and transactions, as well as additional regulatory requirements.

"This partnership with Majesco will accelerate their digital transformations and allow them to discover new insight in the data flowing through their existing processes," she said.