Earlier this year, AT&T finalized a deal to divest itself of its 31 data centers for $1.1 billion. Now that it has dumped its data center business, the company partnering with two of the largest providers of them: Microsoft and IBM.\nIBM and AT&T this week announced a multi-year strategic alliance where AT&T\u2019s network and IBM Cloud will link up to provide software-defined network (SDN) services, including giving IBM Cloud access to AT&T\u2019s 5G network.\u00a0\nIn return, IBM will make AT&T its primary provider of 5G, edge computing, and internet of things (IoT) services and help manage AT&T\u2019s entire infrastructure footprint, including third-party cloud services, using Red Hat\u2019s open-source tools to manage the network. This isn\u2019t really new, as AT&T was using Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) for some time.\n\nAs for Microsoft, Azure will become the preferred cloud provider for AT&T\u2019s non-network applications. This means non-network infrastructure applications will transition to Microsoft Azure, and "much" of AT&T\u2019s workforce will move to Microsoft 365 cloud-based collaboration.\nAT&T focuses on core network capabilities\nAT&T has the goal of becoming a \u201cpublic-cloud first\u201d company and plans to migrate most non-network workloads to the public cloud by 2024. Like so many other firms, AT&T wants to get out of running its own data centers to focus on core network capabilities. Microsoft is the logical choice, since it has Office 365 and there is no viable alternative.\nAs with the IBM deal, AT&T and Microsoft have many more future plans and ambitions to work out, and that includes 5G and edge computing networks.\n\u201cAT&T is at the forefront of defining how advances in technology, including 5G and edge computing, will transform every aspect of work and life,\u201d Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in a statement. \u201cThe world\u2019s leading companies run on our cloud, and we are delighted that AT&T chose Microsoft to accelerate its innovation.\u201d\nThe deal isn\u2019t exactly a first. Verizon dumped its data centers a few years back to Equinix and last year signed a deal with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to make AWS its preferred public cloud provider with the promise of migrating more 1,000 business-critical applications and back-end systems to AWS as part of the deal.