AT&T, Microsoft team to link business customers to Azure cloud

New service to launch in 2014

AT&T is putting the finishing touches on a service that connects its corporate customers' VPNs to Microsoft Azure services, eliminating the need to find separate links between business sites and Microsoft's cloud.

Both companies expect that current AT&T customers will be those likely to sign up first for what will seem to them as a feature of the VPN service they have now. Their assets in the Azure cloud will appear as if they are a node on the corporate network, the companies say.

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Spokesmen for both companies say there is significant overlap between those buying Azure and those buying AT&T VPN services.

The new offering rolls out to a limited number of selected customers later this year and will be generally available next year, the companies say.

The service is based on connections AT&T and Microsoft have engineered between the AT&T network and Azure data centers. When customers buy it, they are getting a certain amount of bandwidth between the service providers’ facilities, not a new connection between their sites and AT&T’s network, the companies say. That bandwidth can be flexible so it automatically increases to accommodate higher than normal traffic and drops back after a spike.

The alternative for most Azure customers is over the public Internet, which can have issues with delay and security, they say.

Microsoft says the relationship with AT&T is the only one it has with any service provider so far, but it could create similar ones with other carriers. Pricing depends on bandwidth commitments.

Tim Greene covers Microsoft and unified communications for Network World and writes the Mostly Microsoft blog. Reach him at tgreene@nww.com and follow him on Twitter@Tim_Greene.

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