IBM, AT&T Expand Alliance To Partner On Cloud, SDN

Longtime partners IBM and AT&T are leaning on each other once again. This time, AT&T Business Solutions will migrate applications to the IBM cloud and IBM will make AT&T Business its primary SDN provider.


IBM and AT&T are teaming up once again, this time, to support each other in cloud and software-defined networking in a multi-year partnership, the two companies announced on Tuesday.

As part of the deal, AT&T Business Solutions will migrate its internal software applications to the IBM cloud. IBM, for its part, will make AT&T Business its primary provider of software-defined networking (SDN). AT&T Business was previously IBM's strategic global networking provider.

In a move that will help the telecom giant better serve enterprise customers, according to the companies, AT&T Business will use Red Hat's open source platform to manage workloads and applications. IBM closed on its $34 billion acquisition of Red Hat earlier this month. The expanded partnership will give AT&T Business better access to Red Hat Enterprise Linux and OpenShift platforms for increased workload interoperability across any vendor's cloud, on or off premises, the companies said.

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IBM will also become the primary developer and cloud provider for AT&T Business's operational applications as part of the agreement. IBM will help manage AT&T's Communications IT infrastructure, on and off-premises and across cloud environments, including both private and public cloud platforms.

The partnership could give AT&T partners a much-needed data center option, said Rickie Richey, CEO of Altaworx, an AT&T Platinum Partner based in Fairhope, Alabama.

"We really don't get to sell that option now. We have customers moving to AWS, and we can sell private connections to AWS and Azure, but there's nothing we can build on AT&T solutions to keep that traffic inside the network," Richey said.

Altaworx has a growing IoT business, and IoT requires plenty of security, Richey said. "We really want an end-to-end solution and not have to worry about third-parties likes AWS," he said.

AT&T's side of the bargain includes helping to transform IBM's networking portfolio with next-generation technologies, such as 5G, Edge Compute, and IOT. The two companies said they plan to work together to develop edge computing platforms.

AT&T and Big Blue have been growing their partnership for the last four years. The two companies in 2015 expanded their partnership when AT&T transitioned its managed application and managed hosting services unit to IBM Cloud, giving IBM the ability to deliver AT&T's managed applications and managed hosting services, while AT&T brought its networking services including security, cloud networking and mobility. In 2016, the two companies came together again when IBM partnered with AT&T to support customers’ Internet of Things (IoT) environments by combining AT&T’s IoT network and the IBM Watson Data Platform.

The Dallas-based telecom giant has been increasingly relying on IBM for its cloud services. AT&T in January offloaded its data center colocation operations and assets to Canadian asset management investment firm Brookfield Infrastructure in a $1.1 billion sale. Brookfield, in turn, launched new company called Evoque Data Center Solutions to operate the data centers, which included 18 of AT&T's data center facilities in the United States and 13 outside the country.