AT&T's announcement of plans to integrate its NetBond services with Amazon Web Services isn't particularly surprising -- it's become the norm for large network operators to link their services to multiple cloud providers, even if they offer their own cloud services. They realize that their enterprise customers are already using these other clouds, particularly Amazon's, and creating more flexible network services that match the cloud is a sensible strategy. (See AT&T NetBond Getting Amazon Ties.)
The remarkable part of AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s integration with Amazon Web Services Inc. is how it is being done: through internally developed applications programming interfaces (APIs) that expose Virtual Private Network resources in a standard way that lets partners be easily integrated. Just as importantly, it allows network provisioning of the combined services to be automated.
So instead of creating a customized, one-off process for each cloud company with which it connects, AT&T NetBond uses its APIs and a standard deployment solution for each one, and that solution capitalizes on patented technology for automating the provisioning process.
I honestly don't know that this is unique to AT&T, although Jon Summers, the company's senior vice president, growth platforms, tells me they see it as a point of differentiation. I do know this is the approach that telecom service providers must adopt in The New IP, because one-off processes that require complex customization will make it much harder for innovation to happen quickly.
One of the problems big telecom players have faced is that they are often not nimble enough to be able to partner with digital firms that turn up -- and turn down -- new things much more quickly. Exposing the appropriate network resources to potential partners can't be something that is done on a 12-month development cycle.
It's also significant that AT&T's process enables automated provisioning of the integrated services, because that is another key aspect of successfully partnering. Any process that requires a lot of human intervention -- throwing people at the problem -- is going to be more costly and more inefficient and ultimately not as successful in translating to bottom-line profits.
To succeed, a service like this has to scale, and that requires automation. Right now AT&T is building this on the back of its software-defined networking, which is part of what enables the network services to be turned up and turned down, as needed, in an efficient way.
And that is, fundamentally, The New IP.
— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading