Despite telcos’ best efforts to portray themselves as more than stodgy phone companies, enterprises looking into cloud services typically don’t consider them as their primary choice of provider. In fact, only 21% of North American respondents in TechTarget’s 2013 IT Priorities Survey said they would consider working with telecommunications companies for cloud services in 2013, compared to 55% considering managed services providers and 44% considering specialty cloud providers (respondents could choose more than one answer).
While marketing will definitely continue to play a big role in evening out the playing field, telcos still need to pursue strategic partnerships with cloud providers from those other two camps — and not just for the purpose of expanding their portfolios. Exposure to those customer bases will also be key. Fortunately for operators, they have an enormously valuable asset — their global networks — that could turn competitors into partners.
Although AT&T arguably has one of the most powerful brands in the United States, it has embraced this strategy over the past several years — boosting its cloud storage line with a strategic alliance with IBM in late 2012 and partnering with EMC in 2009 to deliver its Atmos service. AT&T announced this week it has added yet another partnership to its collection, signing a global strategic alliance with CSC, one of the largest managed services providers in the U.S.
According to an AT&T spokesperson:
“The companies are combining CSC’s cloud services, specialized consulting and applications expertise with AT&T’s highly-secure network and cloud infrastructure platform to help global businesses move more quickly to the cloud. CSC, a recognized leader in enterprise cloud computing, will deliver its BizCloud TM and other cloud services through AT&T’s global cloud infrastructure platform and networks.
CSC, a recognized leader in enterprise cloud computing, will deliver its BizCloud and other cloud services through AT&T’s global cloud infrastructure platform and networks.
CSC will provide application expertise to AT&T and its customers.
Working with AT&T, CSC will enhance and migrate applications to enable AT&T’s customers to benefit from a secure cloud environment. AT&T will assume management of CSC’s internal network and its managed network services portfolio with commercial clients, providing CSC and its clients with a global secure network capability next-gen offerings; with AT&T’s network at the edge of CSC’s data centers, the companies will be able to deploy cloud solutions quickly for their customers.”
Tapping CSC for its applications expertise signals that AT&T may place more emphasis on cloud application integration — a particularly thorny issue for more and more customers trying to deploy a hybrid cloud strategy. And with growing interest in hybrid cloud, that could be AT&T’s end game here. Either way, it’s a smart play for AT&T as it tries to expand uptake of its cloud services beyond the carrier’s existing customer base.