CES 2015: AT&T Mobile Cloud, NetBond VPN platform grow with Sungard, Blue Jeans

AT&T Mobility's CEO acknowledged there's a lot of skepticism about the Internet-of-Things trend, leading many to speculate about the value and beneficiaries.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

LAS VEGAS---A venture capitalist once observed that "software is eating the world," but AT&T believes times have changed already.

"The new, refreshed thought is not that software is eating the world, but mobile is eating world," said Ralph de la Vega, president and CEO of AT&T's mobile and business solutions, at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show on Monday.

Speaking on the third-day of the wireless company's International CES hackathon on Monday, De La Vega made his case as to how AT&T is answering this shift - as well as the Internet-of-Things movement - which is changing "the way companies operate and the way we work."

AT&T forecasted that the Internet-of-Things will grow from 4.9 billion connections in 2015 to more than 25 billion by 2020.

De la Vega highlighted the AT&T Mobile Cloud to address this "mega trend" for serving cloud-based networks and services worldwide. The platform derives a lot of its armor from third-party software and security providers, including AirWatch, MobileIron, and Good Technology. He added that AT&T has invested more than $140 billion in its mobile cloud over the last six years.

One newer fruit of that investment is the AT&T Work Platform, encouraging businesses to AT&T data, voice and messaging services to corporate mobile solutions from third-party providers, while keeping employee and company service bills separate.

NetBond, AT&T's foundation for business customers looking to connect Virtual Private Networks with cloud compute or IT service environments within AT&T's partner ecosystem, is also growing bigger this week.

Blue Jeans Network and Sungard Availability Services are the latest enterprise players to join the ecosystem, already populated by the likes of Amazon Web Services, Salesforce.com, Box, IBM, and Microsoft, among others.

AT&T now retains 118 million subscribers in the United States as well as four million business customers worldwide, including every Fortune 1000 firm globally.

"We intend, as you would expect, to accelerate and realize mobile services by serving as an enabling platform for the industry," De la Vega insisted.

AT&T Mobility CEO Glenn Lurie acknowledged there's a lot of skepticism about the Internet-of-Things trend, leading many to speculate about the value and beneficiaries, whether they be the mobile carriers or OEMs.

De la Vega pinpointed cars and homes as the two biggest opportunities for the Internet-of-Things, projecting AT&T will have 50 percent of the connected car share in the United States by next year.

Picking up where Nvidia left off on Sunday evening, AT&T mapped out its connected car concept roadmap.

The nation's second largest mobile provider introduced a handful of applications tied to its AT&T Drive platform, both of which are being catered to auto industry players and manufacturers.

Among them are access to a 55,000-title library from Audiobooks.com and Glympse, a location-sharing platform designed to share the driver's location in real-time in order to reduce distractions such as text messages and phone calls.

Most of AT&T's connected car solutions actually derive from the telco giant's existing partner base, led by Samsung. The two tech brands will be collaborating on Drive apps and features on test vehicles from Audi, Tesla and Subaru spinning around a 5,000-square foot garage and showroom in Atlanta.

AT&T has also been actively wooing and picking up developers through its CES Hackathon, which opened on Sunday. The event's participants were given first access to the APIs included in the soon-to-be-released AT&T Drive Software Developers Kit.

Developers will also have a crack as the M2X Data Service, which had a sneak preview in beta mode at CES last year. Following suit is AT&T Flow Designer, a new visual tool launching in beta intended to speed the development of IoT applications.

John Donovan, senior executive vice president of AT&T Technology and Operations, also elaborated on AT&T's approach to software-defined networking. Donovan went so far as to characterize the plan to sell on-demand wireless bandwidth to developers as the "biggest networking thing to happen at AT&T in more than 30 years."

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