“With the Oracle deal, I was personally glad to get into the ecosystem,” said Andy Daudelin, VP of cloud and cloud networking at AT&T. “For the past year, we have been hearing from customers about when we were going to get into that ecosystem.”
Daudelin explained there was no real challenge in completing the Oracle agreement, and that it just took “putting our minds to it and getting the deal done.”
“There was really no customization needed for the deployments,” Daudelin said. “We just plugged into the FastConnect platform and were ready to go.”
The Oracle deal allows AT&T customers to manage and access the Oracle FastConnect cloud service using the NetBond platform. Management is enabled through AT&T’s software-defined networking (SDN) efforts.
“SDN enables us and customers to configure services and capacity in real time and on the fly,” Daudelin said. “It really allows for the dynamic expansion and contraction of capacity with need.”
AT&T’s NetBond product, which the company launched in 2013, was one of the operator’s first commercial SDN solutions. It’s designed as a fully managed network and cloud infrastructure connection model targeting cloud service providers.
The platform itself allows companies to route traffic to their cloud provider without the need to go through an on-premise data center. The carrier noted this avoids potential traffic bottlenecks that can occur within heavily used data centers.
Customers that select NetBond as a connection method see the service as another node option for connectivity to the cloud.
The platform also provides for greater security as routed traffic is transmitted through AT&T’s MPLS virtual private network (VPN). This isolates traffic from other NetBond customers using a virtual circuit. AT&T said the isolation of traffic supports “enterprise-grade” security.
AT&T said its NetBond for Cloud program includes more than 20 members providing access to more than 125 cloud services. The cloud platforms include Amazon Web Services (AWS), IBM, Equinix, and Microsoft Azure.
“We have this down to a very standardized and templated approach in both our business model and technical requirements,” Daudelin said. “Over the past two years we have cut the implementation time down to one-quarter of what it was and at one-tenth the original costs.”
AT&T last month added NetBond support for more than 100 cloud software and service providers hosted on AWS. Daudelin differentiated the AWS deal from the Oracle agreement.
“With AWS, they were already part of the ecosystem, and that deal was more about opening up access to the [software-as-a-service] providers that run on the AWS infrastructure,” Daudelin said.
Growth and Expansion
AT&T claims it has more than 50 locations globally where NetBond interconnects with the cloud, and is continuing to add capacity at those locations. The carrier last year witnessed a four-times increase in the number of customers using NetBond, with a more dramatic eight-times increase in traffic.
“It’s obvious to say the service is expanding,” Daudelin said.
Moving forward, Daudelin said AT&T was looking to enhance the mobility component of NetBond by including access through the carrier’s mobile network. This option would tap into its FlexWare platform.
AT&T earlier this year added VPN MPLS, dedicated Internet, and broadband connectivity options in addition to its original Ethernet support for its FlexWare service. FlexWare Connections are supported through AT&T or from another provider, and domestic deployments can use wireless connectivity for redundancy.
Daudelin said AT&T was looking at investing in user tools for NetBond as a way to open application programming interfaces (APIs) so developers “have hooks into the system,” and support for the carrier’s Internet of Things (IoT) business.
AT&T is also looking to add cloud access security brokers (CASBs) to the NetBond platform. CASBs are software tools that sit between a cloud platform and on-premise infrastructure, acting as a gatekeeper to enact security policies.
CASB’s have been highlighted by Gartner as a “required technology” for any enterprise using multiple cloud services. The firm predicts large enterprises using CASBs to grow from less than 5 percent in 2016, to 85 percent by 2020.