In addition, EMC and AT&T announced jointly that AT&T will launch its own online storage offering, called Synaptic Storage as a Service, which is built on the Atmos platform. AT&T says the service will have a limited availability until the third quarter of 2009.
Both Atmos onLine and Synaptic Storage as a Service let customers tap online storage on demand. Customers can expand or reduce capacity as needed, and will only pay for what they use. Both services are built on EMC's Atmos platform, which was originally launched for media companies and service providers to build their own storage clouds, whether to support Web applications or to resell to customers. Atmos blends software and commodity servers to create virtual pools of storage. A policy layer in Atmos lets administrators and service providers manage issues such as retention and data management.
EMC's and AT&T's new services will compete directly with Amazon's Simple Storage Service (S3), which provides Web-based access to storage resources, which customers use to back up files, host Web content and more. The EMC/AT&T partnership changes the dynamic of the enterprise online storage market, which Amazon dominated. In particular, AT&T's position as a trusted service provider may boost acceptance of cloud services among large enterprise customers.
EMC wouldn't quote a price for Atmos onLine, but Mike Feinberg, SVP and GM of EMC Cloud Infrastructure Group, said at a press conference that EMC would "be market competitive." I presume this means the service will match or closely match Amazon's S3 pricing of $0.10 per Gbyte.
While AT&T will start offering its online storage service via a Web portal, over the long term the company may offer it via private network connections. The company didn't provide pricing, but said the service would probably be offered as part of a package of other networking services.
EMC's long-term goal is to encourage companies to build private storage clouds based on Atmos, which can then be federated with public Atmos-based clouds. The vision is that internal/external federation will let companies scale their resources on demand without having to move all, or even most, of their enterprise data off premises.
"It shifts capex to opex and gives unlimited access and instantaneous provisioning," said Feinberg.
When I asked about being able to federate with other cloud platforms, such as Amazon's, Feinberg said in the long term he believes such cross-vendor federation will be possible, but in the meantime federation will only encompass the Atmos platform.
Last month, the DMTF launched a cloud standards incubator, which aims to create specifications to enable private/public cloud interoperability that can be fast-tracked into standards. EMC is a member of the incubator, but Amazon is not.