AT&T launches on-demand cloud storage

The US communications giant plans an international introduction of web-based data storage using EMC's cloud-computing services
Written by Sally Whittle, Contributor

AT&T announced a cloud-based storage service on Monday that will give enterprises worldwide access to secure, on-demand storage capacity and management.

The AT&T Synaptic Storage service will launch this quarter in the US before being rolled out to international datacentres according to customer demand.

The service will enable customers to store, distribute, retrieve and manage data through any internet connection. In a statement, AT&T said that Synaptic Storage's cloud-based nature would let customers scale capacity up or down as needed.

The service will be built on EMC's high-end Atmos storage platform, and EMC will jointly market the new service. AT&T has also developed a web portal where customers can manage data storage and retrieval, as well as set policies to define security and access to stored data.

Synaptic Storage will offer users the opportunity to have secure, dedicated optical or VPN connections to the cloud, said Roman Pacewicz, executive vice president for application services with AT&T. "We're also offering different grades of service, so customers can say how many copies of data they want stored, who can access it and even, at the higher levels, the physical location of that data being stored. It's completely transparent," he told ZDNet UK on Monday.

The service will be rolled out to 38 locations across Europe and Asia in the coming months, and there are plans to provide physical storage infrastructure in those regions. "It's definitely part of the plan, although we don't have a timescale as yet," said Pacewicz.

This type of service is relatively new to the enterprise market, and could dramatically cut the costs of certain types of storage, said Chris Ingle, a consulting director with IDC. In addition, cloud services can make businesses more agile, since it is possible to deploy new services without needing to specify, purchase and install new hardware.

"With cloud, it should be a case of just ringing up with your credit card, and the capacity is there. That's very difficult to achieve with a more traditionally outsourced or hosting contract," Ingle told ZDNet UK.

However, companies should not assume that cloud services will necessarily be cheaper. "It's important to think about how long you need capacity for, who will access it, from where, and what regulatory requirements are involved. For longer-term projects, or where you need highly secure access in a single location, traditional hosting or even buying and managing your own hardware may still be cheaper," Ingle added.

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