AT&T Targets Enterprises

SAN MATEO (07/26/2000) - AT&T Corp. on Wednesday unleashed a pair of announcements designed to beef up its corporate networking offers by keying off popular networking technologies such as Internet-based VPNs (virtual private networks) and DSL for business.

In its announcement geared straight at enterprises, the carrier also manages to hit fashionable corporate IT trends such as outsourced application hosting and secured e-commerce transactions.

In the multipronged enterprise announcement, Basking Ridge, N.J.-based AT&T promised overall to inject traditional frame relay and ATM services with IP networking capabilities.

That entails a strategy to begin connecting enterprise frame relay customers to AT&T's Internet Data Centers. Doing so, the company claims it creates for these customers an IP VPN that travels only over secure networks to access Internet applications.

Routing enterprises securely to its data centers is an AT&T effort to interest those corporations in using some outsourced hosted applications. AT&T has for months trumped the huge investment it is making in the centers.

On the ATM side of the announcement, 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.

Also included in the enterprise announcement -- which is loaded with details on several networking services -- AT&T took the wraps off its PKI (public key infrastructure.) AT&T says its PKI service will let customers use digital certificates and IPSec (IP Security) technology to carry out secure electronic-commerce transactions with business partners, even those partners using alternate carriers.

Finally, in that announcement AT&T claims it has come up with a way to create broadband VPNs that are compliant with the IPSec standard. Although still in trial phase and not widely available until September, the service would allow users to share applications through a central VPN gateway.

That broadband VPN dovetailed right into AT&T's separate announcement that it is putting more energy behind its DSL offerings. Specifically, the company said it has reworked pricing and added online ordering and security features designed to lure more business customers into use of its Business DSL Internet service, now available in 100 U.S. markets.

Jennifer Jones is an InfoWorld senior editor.

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