AT&T squares up to Amazon EC2

With its new Synaptic Compute cloud offering, AT&T has sent a warning shot to Amazon's EC2 service. But is the telco serious about the cloud?

Amazon might have stolen the lead on the cloud computing market, but AT&T plans to give the online retail giant a run for its money.

This week AT&T will launch Synaptic Compute, a service that allows users to rent servers on demand in a pay-as-you-go way, with no up-front fee or termination charges. It's a shot across the bow to EC2, Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud service, but is the telco serious?

The Compute as a Service offering is part of AT&T's managed hosting business, which is shifting toward a more cloudlike model of flexible provisioning and billing as compared with its traditional, fully managed hosting services. AT&T launched Synaptic Storage in August, an on-demand storage service.

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AT&T did not release its CPU-per-hour pricing yet, probably because the pricing scheme is complicated as it is with all telecom services. But at least AT&T had the good sense not to charge a setup fee. Meanwhile, Verizon charges $500 just to get started with its cloud compute service.

On the virtualization side, AT&T has kept things open, supporting VMware's vCloud application programming interface (API) and Sun Microsystems' APIs for the cloud.

"We didn't want to get locked into a technology stack," said Michael Rulf, the executive director of product development at AT&T Hosting and Managed Services. This means VMware customers that are still on ESX 3.5 and have not moved up to vSphere 4 yet could still use the service, he said. "Using Sun, we can support whatever hypervisor the customer is running." Nice. Who's your daddy now, VMware?

Apparently it's the enterprise customers with $1 billion and above in revenue that are most interested in cloud compute services, according to Rulf. They want it for development and test and overflow capacity, he said.

Synaptic Compute won't be available until the fourth quarter of 2009 and then only from AT&T's East Coast data center in Piscataway, N.J.. Eventually, the company plans to extend the service to the West Coast and Asia, but offered no timeline on the expansion.

Jo Maitland is the Executive Editor of SearchCloudComputing.com. Contact her at jmaitland@techtarget.com.

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