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Rather than emulate the public cloud computing business models of Amazon or Google, IBM and AT&T have elected to bring their respective strengths together in an enterprise-focused cloud computer offering targeting Fortune 1000 customers, allocating responsibility for cloud infrastructure and computing to IBM and networking/transport to AT&T.

The companies’ are highlighting the enhanced security functions that AT&T will provide.   John Riberio notes that AT&T and IBM  emphasize that “customers will be able to shift information or applications between their own data centers in private clouds and the new cloud service, without the data leaving the security protections of the virtual private network”  Rachel King explains that the service, which will be offered next year, “combines AT&T’s virtual private networking with IBM SmartCloud Enterprise+, an Infrastructure-as-a-Service, designed for mission-critical, enterprise workloads.”

The venture makes sense in that each company brings its respective assets and expertise and targets their most important customers. It also beings to address a lingering question associated with cloud computing: how to determine whether the network (Internet access service) or cloud infrastructure or application is impacting service delivery.  In bypassing the Internet for connectivity, the joint venture’s customers will benefit from AT&T’s end-to-end MPLS or other private data service and standard SLAs.  In turn, this will enable the establishment of SLAs that better measure the performance of cloud infrastructure or services.  SLAs for cloud offerings  remain far more important to users than cloud providers.

The emphasis on enhanced security functions from AT&T raises the related question of whether AT&T will temper its standard disclaimer of any responsibility for customers’ data transmitted over its network.  At a minimum, enterprise customers will want to assess the extent to which AT&T’s enhanced security functions are disclaimed or negated under the provisions typically found in AT&T’s services agreements.