AT&T and Digital Realty Trust said today that they are expanding their alliance. AT&T will soon be able to incorporate Digital Realty's global colo capacity into its solutions directly, greatly extending the geographical reach of its NetBond cloud connectivity ecosystem.
The relationship between the big US telecommunications carriers and data center infrastructure has been evolving rapidly lately. After a few years in love with the cloud and the infrastructure needed to chase its potential markets, AT&T, Verizon, and CenturyLink have all been rumored to be looking at options that include selling off that infrastructure, while Windstream has already done it.
Today's deal with Digital Realty isn't directly a part of those rumors, although a data center transaction between the two wouldn't surprise many. But indirectly, AT&T's growing preference for working with infrastructure specialists like Digital Realty does seem like part of the story. Large network operators aren't seeing the entire cloud world as their birthright anymore, but rather are viewing the more focused managed connectivity angle as the one where they have the best opportunities.
Ma Bell was once the epitome of vertical integration, but today its partially re-assembled descendants see their future enabling increasingly horizontal ecosystems. It's quite fascinating to watch.
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