Enterprise customers consider the public Internet too unpredictable for accessing cloud services. Enterprise-grade cloud offerings must be backed by a reliable and trusted network -- something cloud providers can't offer alone.
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Some cloud storage providers are turning to telecommunications service providers -- like AT&T and Verizon -- to ensure reliable and secure network access to their services.
Cloud storage providers employing telco networks
IBM recently announced it will partner with AT&T to provide enterprises with network connectivity to its cloud storage services. IBM will use AT&T's global network to power its SmartCloud Enterprise+ platform -- an enterprise-class Infrastructure as a Service offering that grants users on-demand access to virtual server and storage resources.
Customers of IBM's SmartCloud Enterprise+ services will be able to connect to these storage services through AT&T's virtual private network and quickly shift data or applications between their infrastructure and IBM's secure data centers. The new cloud storage services -- which will be available early next year -- will allow customers to move data between IBM's and their own data centers and wired or wireless devices, while still under the protection of a virtual private network, said Steve Caniano, vice president of hosting services for AT&T.
"The new service will harmonize the operation of customers' cloud resources with their enterprise-grade network as an integrated service," he said.
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Enterprises consider the public Internet too insecure and unreliable for connecting to cloud services, Caniano said. "This service attaches cloud services as a part of your enterprise network -- which is more attractive to [users] who will have a lot more predictability and control over these cloud services rather than using an Internet-based solution."
The new cloud storage service could be particularly attractive to AT&T's existing large enterprise customers who are seeking a cloud storage service, noted Amy DeCarlo, principal analyst for security and data center services at Washington, D.C.-based Current Analysis Inc.
IBM isn't the only cloud storage provider turning to a telecom to make its cloud services more appealing to enterprise customers. Nirvanix, a San Diego-based cloud storage provider, recently partnered with CenturyLink, a Monroe, La.-based telecommunications company. The relationship allows customers to access Nirvanix cloud storage services at higher speeds on CenturyLink's network, while reducing bandwidth costs.
Nirvanix Cloud Storage nodes sit on the CenturyLink network, which removes bandwidth roadblocks to cloud services, said Steve Zivanic, vice president of marketing for Nirvanix. Offering enterprise cloud services is a natural progression for service providers as more of their customers begin looking into cloud services -- especially cloud storage, he noted.
"Telcos have the networks and the pipes," Zivanic said. "For them not to take advantage cloud storage services as part of their portfolio would be a lost opportunity."
Will integrated cloud/service providers offerings help grow cloud adoption?
Cloud providers have always had to work with service providers on a case-by-case basis to integrate their cloud services with carrier networks.
"No enterprise will move to the public Internet to go to the cloud," said Tom Nolle, president of CIMI Corp. "Realistically, there has never been an alternative for cloud providers."
As more cloud providers look to target the enterprise market, however, cloud providers need to develop more integrated partnerships with telecoms.
But while selling cloud to the enterprise market is no easy task, deeply integrated cloud offerings between cloud and service providers could translate into greater cloud adoption, AT&T's Caniano noted.
Secure cloud storage options -- such as the new AT&T and IBM service -- can give customers the opportunity to learn the advantages of cloud, such as shared resources, flexibility and provisioning, DeCarlo said. "Because customers will have a private connection into the IBM datacenter through the AT&T MPLS network, [their] data will be separated from other client traffic."
And AT&T and IBM will also have the opportunity to offer customers a strong and attractive service-level agreement because the two solutions are deeply integrated, presenting less of a security risk, she noted.