AT&T to Boost Corporate Networks with IP Services

SAN MATEO (07/28/2000) - AT&T Corp. this week aimed to beef up its corporate network offerings by zeroing in on popular technologies such as Internet-based VPNs and DSL for business.

AT&T pledged to offer more services that inject traditional corporate networks with IP networking capabilities.

By putting its shoulder behind IP VPNs, AT&T is giving its bastion of corporate offerings a much-needed shot in the arm. AT&T has historically trailed its competition in the area of VPNs, said Steven Harris, a New York-based analyst at International Data Corp., which is in Framingham, Mass.

"AT&T's current emphasis on VPNs brings AT&T's focus back to enterprise customers looking for cost-effective WAN solutions," Harris said. "Given their past emphasis on cable -- largely a residential play -- this announcement is interesting because it focuses on the business market segment where AT&T has strengths."

The company's strategy is to begin connecting enterprise frame-relay customers to AT&T's Internet Data Centers. By looping enterprise networks through the carrier's own data centers, AT&T claims it has created for these customers an IP VPN that travels only over secure networks to access Internet applications.

That strategy also affords AT&T another major use for the data centers that the company vowed earlier this year to spend billions building out, mostly as an infrastructure that ASPs (application service providers) can use to offer services.

"We are trying to help extend the enterprise networks out there to other users on the Internet, which can be a costly and problematic proposition," said Jonathan Cohen, director of Advanced IP Services at Basking Ridge, N.J.-based AT&T.

On the ATM side, AT&T has pledged to "IP-enable" those networks by boosting QoS (quality of service) through the use of MPLS (Multi-Protocol Label Switching) technology.

AT&T's announcements also piggybacked on the current move toward secure e-commerce transactions, with the carrier taking the wraps off its new PKI (public key infrastructure) offering.

AT&T says its PKI service will let customers use digital certificates and IPsec technology to carry out secure electronic-commerce transactions with business partners, even those partners using alternate carriers.

Additionally, AT&T unveiled its broadband VPN service to supplement its dial-in offering. Still in the trial phase and not widely available until September, the service uses technology that is compliant with the IPSec standard to allow users to share applications via a central VPN gateway.

The broadband VPN debut dovetailed into AT&T's separate announcement that it is putting more energy behind its DSL offerings.

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