AT&T cloud storage offers EMC Atmos, VPN, compression

AT&T Synaptic Storage as a Service uses EMC Atmos storage; AT&T cloud service includes data compression and a choice of public Internet or VPN.

Differentiators for AT&T Inc.'s Synaptic Storage as a Service, which launched in 2009, include EMC Corp.'s Atmos object storage on the back end, the choice of AT&T's virtual private network or the public Internet, the option of pricing advantages for committing to a specific amount of storage and the opportunity to use data compression.

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The AT&T cloud storage service can store file- or block-based data through third-party products such as Riverbed Technology Inc.'s Whitewater cloud storage gateway or Symantec Corp.'s NetBackup 7.6.

AT&T offers the options of local replication or remote replication. The default option is local replication, where all of the customer's data objects are stored at one site and protected using erasure coding. AT&T defines erasure coding as a "software-based data protection scheme that allows for data recovery in the event of hardware failures. The technology splits each data object into 10 equally-sized segments, adds two parity segments, then distributes these segments across different storage nodes within the platform. Should a hardware failure result in loss of up to two of the primary segments, the system is designed to reconstruct the original data using the parity information."

Getting started/connected

The default network option for AT&T Synaptic Storage as a Service is the public Internet, but customers also have the option of a private network. Application developers connect to the AT&T Synaptic service via EMC Corp.'s Atmos Web services application programming interface (API). API keys authenticate users and direct their data to their containers in the storage cloud. Customers without in-house programming skills can contract with third-party providers that have written to the EMC Atmos API and provide gateways to AT&T Synaptic Storage.

Data center locations

AT&T claims it "leverages its footprint of 38 data centers globally" for cloud-like hosting and managed hosting services. However, Gartner Inc. stated in a December 2012 report that the Storage-as-a-Service (SaaS) infrastructure is currently limited to U.S. data centers. The Gartner report, entitled "Critical Capabilities for Public Cloud Storage Services," also noted that the SaaS infrastructure is in place in EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa), and AT&T plans to expand into Europe and beyond.

AT&T's Internet data center locations are as follows:

North America: Annapolis, Md.; Atlanta area (2); Boston area; Chicago area (2); Dallas area (2); Los Angeles area (2); Miami; Nashville, Tenn.; New York; New York metro area (2); Orlando, Fla. area; Phoenix area; San Diego area; San Francisco area; San Jose, Calif. area; Seattle area; Toronto; and Washington, D.C. area.

Europe: Amsterdam, Netherlands; Birmingham, U.K. and London; Frankfurt, Germany; Nice, France and Paris.

Asia Pacific: Hong Kong; Shanghai, China (2); Singapore; Sydney, Australia; Tokyo (3); and Osaka, Japan.

Pricing

Customers have the choice of paying only for the storage they use or committing to a specific amount of storage at special rates through AT&T's Committed Storage Volume (CSV) pricing option. AT&T Synaptic Storage itemizes two pricing components -- data access type and data storage policy. Taken together, the two components comprise AT&T Synaptic Storage's total monthly price for the service. Potential customers need to contact AT&T for information about the CSV option.

Data access type: The default networking option is the public Internet, but AT&T customers can also choose AT&T's VPN. Outbound Internet data transfers cost 10 cents per gigabyte (GB) per hour. Inbound transfers are free.

Data storage policy: Each of AT&T’s four storage policy options includes unlimited storage. Local protection, compression and write once, read many (WORM) policies start at 15 cents per GB per month, and remote replication starts at 20 cents per GB for transfers between AT&T data centers.

AT&T also offers a one-time free CloudArray Gateway for AT&T Synaptic Storage as a Service, consisting of a 1 terabyte edition of TwinStrata Inc.'s CloudArray. The amount of data in the cloud can be upgraded to an unlimited amount at standard AT&T Synaptic Storage as a Service rates.

(Note: All pricing information is valid as of April 1, 2013)

Service-level agreement

AT&T Synaptic Storage pledges 99.99% availability of the Web services API. AT&T said it will review requests for customer-specific service-level agreements.

Management

APIs permit control over cloud storage resources, enabling customers to manage and monitor usage, create thresholds and automate processes, such as increasing capacity at pre-set times for recurring usage spikes.

The AT&T Cloud portal provides online service management tools for customers to run reports, view and pay bills, and manage their profiles, services and users.

Security

AT&T Synaptic Storage taps into the built-in security of the AT&T global network. Security features include request authentication with an encrypted digital signature and embedded defense against distributed denial-of-service attacks (DDoS). Customers can create additional security layers for data in transit.

User authentication is through API keys provided in profiles in the Web Management Portal. AT&T uses a REST API method for connection to the customer environment. The REST API attaches to a specific application, such as a customer's media server or database. The application already resides in the customer's Active Directory or LDAP structure, which enforces user access to the data stored with AT&T Synaptic Storage as a Service.

Additional notes

Other AT&T cloud services include hosting, Compute as a Service, Platform as a Service, integrated computing and application development architecture (through AT&T Cloud Architect), medical imaging and information management, and a health care information exchange platform. AT&T said it is working with IBM on a network-enabled cloud service due this year for Fortune 1000 customers.

This was first published in April 2013

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