We just returned from Dallas after attending AT&T’s annual analyst summit. This year was the first time that the company combined its consumer and enterprise events. While we understand the reasoning behind that decision, in our opinion, it did not add much value to our experience of the event from an enterprise mobility perspective. The overall event was very well organized and provided us with good access to AT&T decision makers and also several high profile customers and partners. AT&T issued several notable news releases to coincide with the event—the announcements all show that AT&T is moving in a coordinated way towards becoming the largest integrated carrier for the enterprise.
Not surprisingly, connectivity was a key theme of the event juxtaposed by the opening statements made by Chairman of the Board and CEO Randall Stephenson “AT&T’s core value proposition is connectivity” to thereal world admission by Mark Dunson, President of Emerson’s Climate Technologies – who was presenting very interesting IoT use cases in the food service sector – that “connectivity is really hard”. AT&T is addressing these connectivity challenges through the flexibility it is integrating into its business model and infrastructure.
Key solutions such as NetBond, which enable enterprises to move mission critical applications to the cloud through a fabric that combines the control, security and performance of a private cloud with the economies of public cloud services, will be critical to realizing that vision. Similarly central to this initiative is AT&T API platform which appears to be gaining momentum as a means for service provides to complete significantly faster installations and help them customize their billing and payment solutions, driving new business models and revenue. Finally, security was a central theme across all presentations and interactions. At the event AT&T released its inaugural Cybersecurity report aimed primarily at educating C-level decision makers about threats facing their business. With the volume of traffic traversing AT&T’s networks on a daily basis, they will have an increasingly central role in monitoring this traffic and actively addressing potential threats.
AT&T has a winner in NetBond. Rather than attempting to compete with the likes of Amazon, IBM, Google, and Microsoft in the commoditized cloud service market, the company is focusing on secure cloud connectivity solutions for their enterprise customers to connect their data and software with their cloud provider they choose. The NetBond cloud ecosystem continues to expand, and can now integrate with almost every prominent cloud player, including: Amazon Web Services, Availability Services, Blue Jeans Network, Box, CSC, Equinix, HP, Salesforce, SoftLayer, Sunguard, and VMware. The integrations allow AT&T to seamlessly integrate its MPLS network with these clouds while reducing latency – most impressive was the live demo (always risky) that showed how quickly/easily services could be provisioned and how easily enterprises could make the cloud an “extension” of their VPN.
AT&T's focus on Industrial IoT market is beginning to pay dividends. The company is laser focused on being a trusted advisor to its clients and appears to be delivering on its promise to provide a flexible and modular IoT platform. AT&T is focusing on the right areas that are ripe for IoT enablement (asset management, connected-car solutions, instrumenting stranded assets, while pursuing a broader "smart city" opportunity). We liked AT&T's messaging and focus on helping its enterprise customers “collect real-time operational data and improve operation process”, and see the company having a great opportunity to gain traction with its various IoT solutions and support services. Mark Dunson, Emerson's President of Climate Technologies articulated the notable cold chain opportunity to gather and interpret significant amounts of data from its systems that they can then turn into insights for customers—specifically on reducing their energy usage and increasing efficiency for better overall performance.
Security – Software Defined
AT&T showed that it was serious about enhancing its security value play and articulated how it could take virtualization out of the data center and move it onto its network. AT&T revealed a new partnership with Cisco which will help it to extend the reach of its Network on Demand platform using software defined networking (SDN) and network function virtualization (NFV). SDN-enabled security can enhance network security visibility and accelerate the pace of implementing new services by opportunities for intelligent response on a granular basis through selectively blocking malicious traffic. Additionally, SDN security applications can act on anomalies by diverting network flows to key enforcement points or security services, such as enhanced firewalls and intrusion detection/prevention systems.
AT&T also announced that it had released its first Cybersecurity Insights Report to show its commitment to helping customers keep their data safe. “Every company either has been breached or will be breached,” said Ralph de la Vega, president and CEO, AT&T Mobile and Business Solutions said in a statement. “Keeping a business protected should be a company-wide priority. Every employee, contractor, and administrator is responsible for keeping security top of mind.”
The Report outlines primary security threats businesses face both inside and outside of their companies–specifically:
View the 2017 Enterprise Mobility & Connected Devices Research Outline to learn more.