- AT&T and Microsoft announced the initial availability of their Network Edge Compute (NEC) platform, which weaves Microsoft Azure cloud services into AT&T network edge locations, the companies announced Tuesday.
- The news is the first major update since Microsoft and AT&T announced a wide-ranging partnership in July. The companies will make the service available to limited clients in Dallas, with select services set to launch in Los Angeles and Atlanta next year.
- As part of AT&T's push to become "public-cloud first" by 2024, the company turned to Microsoft solutions, including cloud-connected Office apps on Windows 10, Microsoft Teams, SharePoint and OneDrive. "Tens of thousands" of AT&T employees now have access to these tools, the companies said.
Through infrastructure investments and partnerships, AT&T prepares for a future where edge technologies and 5G play a starring role.
In a similar partnership to its Microsoft deal, the telecommunications AT&T tapped IBM in July to jointly work on edge computing platforms.
For infrastructure providers, interest in edge computing heralds change.
By 2023, Gartner projects over half of all data will be created and processed "outside the data center or cloud," said Daryl Plummer, distinguished vice president and Gartner Fellow, speaking at the Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo in Orlando, Florida, in October.
The projected four-year growth spurt in edge computing is sizable, given the current level of workloads processed outside the data center or cloud is below 10%.
By partnering with AT&T, Microsoft secures the allegiance of one of the key players in the coveted 5G space, adding considerable workloads to Azure and other products in the process.
"To catch up with Amazon, you'll see more and more partnerships," said Sid Nag, research vice president at Gartner, in an interview with CIO Dive. "This is part of their non-organic way of growing their revenue around cloud."
Partnerships like these are a symbol of Microsoft's approach to the cloud wars, a key tech battlefield where it continues to trail Amazon Web Services.
"There's a synergistic play between the two companies," said Nag. "And it all kinda fits together."