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In this SPIE, we evaluate the market trends driving the emergence of network-enabled cloud, with a special focus on AT&T’s partnership strategy to position itself as a cloud providers’ cloud provider.
On August 6, 2013, AT&T and Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) announced a global strategic alliance to develop joint cloud solutions for businesses. The details of the agreement are still being worked out. Through this strategic alliance, the two companies are able to tap into each other’s expertise: AT&T gains access to CSC’s cloud services, IT consulting, and application services; and CSC gains access to AT&T’s network services and cloud infrastructure platforms. Enterprise customers looking to adopt cloud services can now take advantage of the combined offering—CSC’s cloud services along with AT&T’s global network capabilities.
Such alliances are not new for AT&T, or the market. In November 2012, AT&T and IBM announced an agreement to combine the network capabilities of the former and the managed cloud offering of the latter to offer a comprehensive network-enabled cloud offering.2 On September 18, 2013, AT&T announced a strategic agreement with Microsoft, in which AT&T benefits from its multiprotocol virtual private network (MPLS VPN) services along with Microsoft Azure, and provides Microsoft’s enterprise cloud customers with dynamically scalable, more secure and reliable network connectivity. Other partnerships in the market include CSC’s partnership with Sprint for managed network services; Hughes Cloud Services’ partnership with Level 3 to extend service level agreements (SLAs) to the last mile for Hughes’ cloud customers; Amazon Web Services’ agreement with multiple communication service providers (CSPs), including Level 3 and tw telecom, for private network connectivity to its virtual private cloud.
Networks play a critical role in the success of cloud-based services, by enabling enterprises to connect to cloud in a secure and reliable fashion, instead of relying on the best-effort public Internet. An increasing number of such partnerships indicate that the era of network-enabled cloud has arrived. In this SPIE, we evaluate the market trends driving the emergence of network-enabled cloud, with a special focus on AT&T’s partnership strategy to position itself as a cloud providers’ cloud provider.
What is a Network-Enabled Cloud?
A network-enabled cloud is a cloud service that comes integrated with the security and reliability of a private network, such as a MPLS VPN. In a network-enabled cloud environment, the cloud resources are pre-provisioned with private network resources to eliminate the security risks of connecting to the cloud over public Internet. Key features of a network-enabled cloud include:
• In a MPLS VPN-enabled cloud, the hosted cloud data center becomes another node on the enterprise WAN, thus enabling cloud services to seamlessly fit into existing enterprise network architecture.
• A network-enabled cloud acts as an extension of the enterprise WAN, thus providing enterprises the flexibility to connect their remote employees and partners to cloud-based applications in a secure manner.
• A network-enabled cloud enables enterprises—that want to take advantage of the flexible, multi-tenant, usage-based billing model of cloud, but are concerned about security—to connect to cloud in a secure and reliable manner via a private VPN.
• A network-enabled cloud extends the flexibility of the cloud model to network services. For example, the on-demand or dynamic bandwidth allocation feature of the MPLS VPNs enables the network resources to scale as demanded by the cloud services. Some communication service providers are offering on-demand bandwidth allocation capabilities with their Ethernet services—albeit, the flexibility offered in terms of bandwidth changes is limited.
Why is a Network-Enabled Cloud Important, Now and in The Future?
The cloud Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) model, wherein enterprises can purchase computing and storage resources on a pay-as-you-go basis, appeals to businesses of every size, as it shifts IT spending from restrictive capital budgets to more flexible operating budgets. However, no one type of cloud can fit all the needs of all enterprises. Three types of cloud models are currently used in the market.
Public Cloud – This model involves a third-party hosted virtualized computing environment in which servers and other infrastructure are shared among enterprise clients. The public cloud is usually accessed over the public Internet.
Private Cloud – This model involves a flexible computing environment in which servers and other infrastructure components are dedicated to a single enterprise. An enterprise may build and manage a private cloud in its own facilities, or it may subscribe to private cloud services that are hosted by a third-party cloud service provider. In the hosted private cloud, enterprises subscribe to dedicated IT resources as a service. Private clouds are typically accessed using dedicated private lines or virtual private networks.
Hybrid Cloud – This model could be a combination of on-premises data center or private cloud, dedicated hosting, public cloud and hosted private cloud. For enterprises, a hybrid cloud holds the promise of easy mobility of data, workloads, or both, among environments.
As enterprises distribute their applications among private data centers, public clouds, private hosted clouds, and hybrid clouds, the networks connecting users to applications become more critical than in a single deployment model. Cloud service providers rely on CSP network services to build and connect their heterogeneous cloud networks; and enterprise users rely on the networks to access their cloud services. However, the network that will deliver on user expectations for cloud delivery may not be the best-effort public Internet. Since networks are an integral part of a cloud's performance, enterprises are increasingly evaluating a network-enabled cloud, as they outline their cloud deployment strategy.
Market Trends Driving the Need for Network-Enabled Cloud
The following section presents an analysis of the market trends that are driving demand for network-enabled cloud.
Cloud Adoption is Increasing
The U.S. IaaS market crossed the $ billion mark in revenues for the year 2012, reflecting the acceptance of the hosted, on-demand model for creating and delivering IT resources. Enterprises are still cautious about making a major commitment to the cloud, but more enterprises are trying out IaaS for more workloads than they did two years ago. Furthermore, in Frost & Sullivan’s recent analysis of the U.S. Data Center Services market 2015 is predicted to be the year in which IaaS revenues will surpass traditional data center services revenues. The compound annual growth rates (CAGR) from 2012 to 2017 for retail co-location services and managed hosting services are expected to be percent and percent, respectively; however, the IaaS market is expected to grow at a CAGR of over percent during the same period.
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