AT&T Makes a Big Bet On Linux and Open Source in the Cloud

by Ostatic Staff - Jan. 11, 2012

While there are a number of open source solutions emerging for cloud computing, OpenStack remains one of the best backed platforms, with vendors ranging from Hewlett-Packard to Dell to Citrix supporting it. OpenStack got its early momentum from Rackspace and NASA, though, and late last year Rackspace announced Rackspace Cloud: Private Edition, which is an OpenStack-powered cloud platform featuring managed services and--most important of all--operational support. Now, AT&T has announced that it is delivering an open source cloud platform based on OpenStack, dubbed AT&T Cloud Architect. It signals a big bet on open source from a major telco.

According to the Cloud Architect site:

"Soon, complicated configurations will be a thing of the past. AT&T Cloud Architect will bring you an automated, standardized and fast way to pick, provision and deploy servers over the web within minutes or hours, not days. AT&T Cloud Architect joins the AT&T Hosting Services portfolio, an extensive range of enterprise hosting and cloud computing services - as well as web hosting for small to midsize businesses."

What's significant here is that AT&T's combination of an open source cloud platform with hosting services and support for those hosting services could attract many businesses away from smaller players in the cloud. Support, in particular, is going to be a big differentiator for AT&T's open source cloud offering, and for Rackspace's. In fact, I've made the point that support may very well determine the winners and the losers in the cloud race. 

Enterprises, especially, will favor a platform-level solution when it's clear that they'll get completely reliable support. Red Hat has found success by supporting open source platform-level software, and the company carefully tends to its top support contract renewers, all of whom tend to sign up for new support subscriptions like clockwork. In similar fashion, AT&T is offering 24/7 support, complete with monthly subscription plans, for Cloud Architect-based deployments.

As The Register notes, AT&T's Cloud Architect strategy has a pronounced Linux twist:

"The carrier has promised a LAMP stack for CentOS, Debian, Fedora, Red Hat and Windows Server for AT&T Cloud Architect, with plans to add a 'full API framework' letting devs 'fully tap' into AT&T's cloud...At the same time, meanwhile, AT&T has become the first US telco to sign up to OpenStack – the project initiated by Rackspace and NASA in 2010, tasked with building a Linux for the cloud."

"A Linux for the cloud." Now, there are some people who would never have believed AT&T would help lead such an effort. According to Business Insider, AT&T may even directly challenge Amazon Web Services (AWS) in the cloud. 

In addition to its promised LAMP stack and Linux efforts, Cloud Architect will also support Microsoft Windows Server. That's to be expected, as AT&T has a long history of partnership with Microsoft. Nevertheless, Cloud Architect makes clear that one of the world's biggest telcos takes Linux and open source very seriously.

For more on open source cloud computing efforts, see our cloud computing resources collection