PODCAST

AT&T’s Take on Shifting Cloud Challenges and Opportunities

Migrating to the cloud is all the rage, but companies large and small are finding that they need to move a wider variety of their daily operations to network-delivered services — if they are available and within their budgets. One of the world’s largest service providers, global telecommunications giant AT&T, has created advanced cloud services for its business customers. AT&T has developed the ability to provide virtual private clouds and other computing capabilities as integrated services at scale.

Chris Costello, assistant vice president of AT&T Cloud Services, knows firsthand the challenges and opportunities involved in implementing cloud technology to deliver and commercialize an adaptive and reliable cloud services ecosystem. Costello sees which cloud computing needs are being requested by smaller companies — bundled services, on-demand capabilities — and knows why the enterprise is emphasizing state-of-the-art security features.

Costello shared her story on building top-performing infrastructure, and how the cloud services trend could open the door to more opportunities for women in technology. The interview was conducted by Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions.


Download the podcast (33:23) or use the player:


Here are some excerpts:

Dana Gardner: Just to help us understand, why are business cloud services such an important initiative for you?

Chris Costello: AT&T has been in the hosting business for more than 15 years, and so it was only a natural extension for us to get into the cloud services business to evolve with customers’ changing business demands and technology needs.

We have cloud services in several areas. The first is our AT&T Synaptic Compute as a Service. This is a hybrid cloud that allows VMware clients to extend their private clouds into AT&T’s network-based cloud using a virtual private network. And it melds the security and performance of VPNs with the economics and flexibility of a public cloud. So the service is optimized for VMware’s more than 350,000 clients.

If you look at customers who have internal clouds today or private data centers, they like the control, the security, and the leverage that they have, but they really want the best of both worlds. There are certain workloads where they want to burst into a service provider’s cloud.

We give them that flexibility, agility and control, where they can simply point and click, using free downloadable tools from VMware, to instantly turn up workloads into AT&T’s cloud.

Another capability that we have in this space is AT&T Platform as a Service. This is targeted primarily to independent software vendors (ISVs), IT leaders, and line-of-business managers. It allows customers to choose from 50 pre-built applications, instantly mobilize those applications, and run them in AT&T’s cloud, all without having to write a single line of code.

So we’re really starting to get into more of the informal buyers, those line-of-business managers, and IT managers who don’t have the budget to build it all themselves, or don’t have the budget to buy expensive software licenses for certain application environments.

Examples of some of the applications that we support with our platform as a service (PaaS) are things like salesforce automation, quote and proposal tools, and budget management tools.

The third key category of AT&T’s Cloud Services is in the storage space. We have our AT&T Synaptic Storage as a Service, and this gives customers control over storage, distribution, and retrieval of their data, on the go, using any web-enabled device. In a little bit, I can get into some detail on use cases of how customers are using our cloud services.

This is a very important initiative for AT&T. We’re seeing customer demand of all shapes and sizes. We have a sizable business and effort supporting our small- to medium-sized business customers, and we have capabilities that we have tailor-developed just to reach those markets.

As an example, in SMB, it’s all about the bundle. It’s all about simplicity. It’s all about on-demand. And it’s all about pay-per-use and having a service provider they can trust.

In the enterprise space, you really start getting into detailed discussions around security. You also start getting into discussions with many customers who already have private networking solutions from AT&T that they trust. When you start talking with clients around the fact that they can run a workload, turn up a server in the cloud, behind their firewall, it really resonates with CIOs who we’re speaking with in the enterprise space.

Also in enterprises, it’s about having a globally consistent experience. So as these customers are reaching new markets, it’s all about not having to stand up an additional data center, compute instance, or what have you, and having a very consistent experience, no matter where they do business, anywhere in the world.

Gardner: The fact is that a significant majority of CIOs and IT executives are men, and that’s been the case for quite some time. But I’m curious, does cloud computing and the accompanying shift towards IT becoming more of a services-brokering role change that? Do you think that with the consensus building among businesses and partner groups being more important in that brokering role, this might bring in a new era for women in tech?

Costello: I think it is a new era for women in tech. Specifically to my experience in working at AT&T in technology, this company has really provided me with an opportunity to grow both personally and professionally.

I currently lead our Cloud Office at AT&T and, prior to that, ran AT&T’s global managed hosting business across our 38 data centers. I was also lucky enough to be chosen as one of the top women in wireline services.

What drives me as a woman in technology is that I enjoy the challenge of creating offers that meet customer needs, whether they be in the cloud space, things like driving e-commerce, high performance computing environments, or disaster recovery solutions.

I love spending time with customers. That’s my favorite thing to do. I also like to interact with many partners and vendors that I work with to stay current on trends and technologies. The key to success of being a woman working in technology is being able to build offers that solve customers’ business problems, number one.

Number two is being able to then articulate the value of a lot of the complexity around some of these solutions, and package the value in a way that’s very simple for customers to understand.

Some of the challenge and also opportunity of the future is that, as technology continues to evolve, it’s about reducing complexity for customers and making the service experience seamless. The trend is to deliver more and more finished services versus complex infrastructure solutions.

I’ve had the opportunity to interact with many women in leadership, whether they be my peer group, managers that work as a part of my team, and/or mentors that I have within AT&T that are senior leaders within the business.

I also mentor three women at AT&T, whether they be in technology, sales, or an operations role. So I’m starting to see this trend continue to grow.

Dana Gardner is president and principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions, which tracks trends, delivers forecasts and interprets the competitive landscape of enterprise applications and software infrastructure markets for clients. He also produces BriefingsDirect sponsored podcasts. Follow Dana Gardner on Twitter.Disclosure: VMware is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.

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License Change May Spark New Pricing Trend for Open-Source Projects

software license

Cloud-native microservices platform Lightbend wants open-source licensing to better meet developers’ needs and is doing something to make that happen. However, the replacement fix is not a traditional open-source license. Rather, it transitions there in time.

The company, whose user base includes some of the world’s largest brands, on Wednesday announced significant changes to the licensing model for its Akka technology. The platform is used extensively by industry leaders in financial services, e-commerce, automotive, web services, cloud infrastructure, and gaming.

Akka offers devs the ability to deliver concurrent, distributed, and resilient event-driven applications for Java and Scala. Lightbend is changing the license on all Akka modules from Apache 2.0 to Business Source License (BSL) v1.1, starting with Akka v2.7 which will be delivered in October.

That change will bring hefty licensing costs to high-end users. But Lightbend expects it to bring no major problems on open-source projects.

“The goal is to have as little impact on the open-source community and projects as possible. Open-source projects using Akka can contact Lightbend and apply for a license to use Akka within the realms of the open-source project. We have already called about the Play Framework in the Additional Usage Grant in the license itself,” Jonas Bonér, Lightbend’s founder and CEO and the creator of Akka, told LinuxInsider.

The new license will ensure a healthy balance between all parties, shared responsibility, and by extension, contribute to Akka’s future development, he explained.

Addresses Broken Business Model

The “open core” business model on which Akka is based has shown its limitations for Lightbend and many other organizations in similar circumstances, he offered. The toolkit’s licensing changes will ensure its future development.

Once an OSS project becomes so critical to an organization’s daily operation, many larger enterprises turn to self-supporting this software, without contributing anything more to its development or the community at large, Bonér observed. In many instances, these organizations are generating significant profits leveraging this “free” technology.

Under Akka’s new licensing model, any organization with less than $25 million in annual revenue will not require license fees for production usage of the software. However, Lightbend must still grant those users a $0 commercial license.

Larger businesses with more than $25 million annual revenue must now acquire a paid license plus a subscription for production usage. The BSL is available with several options. The new license does not permit back-porting of any software released.

“I think it is a viable path toward sustainable open source. I expect more companies that are building a business around open source to go down this path,” Bonér noted about the impact the BSL license switch will have on open-source projects.

How It Works

MariaDB Corporation crafted the BSL v1.1 now used by Cockroach Labs and other organizations. The BSL is not an open-source license.

In short, the difference is slight between the BSL 1.0 and BSL 1.1, explained Bonér. Version 1.1 fixed the loophole where a company could opt to never convert to a “change license” by now making it explicit that it could not be more than four years. A full discussion of the version change is available at MariaDB.

Akka’s new license works in two stages. First it has commercial overtones. Then it becomes “customizable.”

Under the commercial stage, users can view the source code of the software they obtain for the $0 license. They can download and use it in non-production environments. However, production usage requires users to obtain an upgraded software license from Lightbend.

The second stage kicks in under an open-source license after three years. That version then is released under the current Apache 2.0 license. It offers a customizable “Additional Use Grant” that will be used to grant usage for other OSS projects such as the Play Framework.

Pricing and Versioning Matters

Each new minor version of the software will have its own change date. A “minor version” is defined as a release that changes the second digit of the version number.

For example, a change from Akka 2.7.19 to 2.8.0 would reset the change date. A patch build change from 2.7.19 to 2.7.20 would not, according to Bonér.

Based on this license revision, here is Lightbend’s revised pricing and packaging for the Akka software:

Lightbend's Akka platform, packaging and pricing options

Organizations seeking more information about the implementation of BSL licensing can explore Bonér’s blog.

Jack M. Germain

Jack M. Germain has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2003. His main areas of focus are enterprise IT, Linux and open-source technologies. He is an esteemed reviewer of Linux distros and other open-source software. In addition, Jack extensively covers business technology and privacy issues, as well as developments in e-commerce and consumer electronics. Email Jack.

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