Cloud computing offers the enterprise sector considerable advantages in terms of performance, agility and economy. But security is a big concern, particularly for the enterprises who connect their own networks to a cloud service through data centers or over the Internet.
AT&T has addressed those security concerns with NetBond, which is a pre-provisioned, API-orchestrated platform that extends the security of an organization's private network into the cloud.
NetBond integrates a customer's AT&T's multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) virtual private network (VPN) offering with cloud service providers such as Amazon Web Services Inc. , IBM Managed Cloud Service, Microsoft Azure, Box, Cisco WebEx and others via software-defined networking
(SDN) capabilities and proprietary technology. The result, according to AT&T, is a more secure, flexible and efficient connection to cloud services.
Taking the power of connectivity a step further, AT&T announced earlier this year that Internet of Things (IoT) services would be integrated with NetBond, which means that enterprises can tap into the data of connected cellular devices without sending it over the Internet.
Mo Katibeh, senior vice president, advanced solutions at AT&T spoke to Telco Transformation about the service provider's virtualization efforts and the advantages that it brings to enterprises.
Telco Transformation: AT&T's NetBond service provides a VPN that can connect to a public, private or hybrid cloud services. Why is there a need for that range of connection?
Mo Katibeh: More and more business customers are adopting cloud. Quite a number of them are even using multiple cloud services, and a lot of them are using hybrid cloud solutions. That's why we architected NetBond to work with any of those variations. Some businesses prefer to split their private and public cloud services, keeping their IP, or mission critical data, secure on a private system and their less mission critical applications on a public one. NetBond can connect to their preferred system and it takes just minutes to set up.
TT: Can you talk about how NetBond not only achieves better security but better performance by bypassing the Internet?
MK: Sending your data over the open Internet is like driving where you don't know what you may encounter along the way; like delays due to congestion or security threats like DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service.) In contrast, NetBond offers what amounts to your own private lane on a private freeway. It allows your data to breeze through unharmed and unhampered by latency issues or jitter. It's also flexible and agile, so that it automatically scales up bandwidth to accommodate peak traffic loads.
TT: What do customers like the most about NetBond?
MK: It's a flexible, customer-defined solution that allows customers to move data where they want while staying off the Internet. When I ask customers why they picked this solution, they say they like the convenience and affordability. They reference its ease of use, the self-serve portal and what they call "burstability." That's the ability to burst above the defined bandwidth that they have purchased.
Burstability is one of the competitive differences of NetBond over other solutions. Virtualization enables accommodations for customer needs that include elasticity to spike above bandwidth without incurring extra charges. We don't see a lot of offers out there that allow customers to do that and to provision new connections in a matter of minutes to the clouds of their choice.
TT: AT&T announced it was connecting NetBond with its Control Center IoT services platform. Can you talk about what that entails and the potential benefits for companies that seek to capitalize on IoT?
MK: The integration with IoT services is something I'm personally very excited about. I love IoT because it's only limited by your own imagination in terms of what you can do with it. Literally every week there are new announcements about businesses and partnerships using IoT. IoT is going to foundationally change the world. It's going to change businesses and make lives better.
Forecasts indicate that by 2020 there will be 37 million to 50 million IoT devices in use out there. That's a huge growth area with possibilities for transforming business operations as new ways for collecting data, which can drive down costs and drive up revenue, open up. Businesses want to tap into that potential for more data-driven and timely business decision.
But in order to do that, they need a way to get the data off the devices for analysis, and security threats along the way are a real concern. NetBond allows them to direct the data to exactly where they want it to go while keeping that flow of IoT data safe, secure and unimpeded off the public Internet. We are super excited to be able to provide that end-to-end solution and help businesses on their journey toward IoT.
TT: Why is NetBond's flexibility important for IoT?
MK: AT&T customers pay according to the size of the port that fits their needs. The more IoT devices you have, the larger the port you need to accommodate that flow of data. You just buy the right size port, which may not have to be that large because many IoT devices provide only occasional data. You can have sensors that pick up data points several times a day, only once a day, once a week, once a month or even less frequently. The frequency of transmissions, as well as the number of devices, has to be factored into determining the size port that is needed. Even with planning, though, you can occasionally spike over the allotted bandwidth, and that's something that the elasticity of solution allows for to be sure that the data does get through. If spiking occurs regularly, an adjustment to pipe size may be in order. The agility of the system also allows for provisioning larger or smaller pipes in near real time as needed.
TT: Does NetBond for IoT work only work on AT&T's network?
MK: Our IoT solutions are available globally. We don't have mobility networks all over the world. We use and partner with local carriers to leverage their mobility networks. Their services carry to the control center and the AT&T private network carries from the control center to the cloud. We want to simplify the experience for business customers, so for them it's a seamless, transparent experience. They just work with AT&T. We provide global connectivity to IoT, so you don't have to worry about it.
— Ariella Brown, Contributing Writer, Telco Transformation