AT&T debuts microservices supplier program, advancing SDN, cybersecurity vision

AT&T has introduced its microservices supplier program in collaboration with IBM, offering another software-based approach to delivering functions and applications to business customers.

Touting faster capacity updates, AT&T and IBM will collaborate to design, develop and deploy microservices that the companies say will transform AT&T’s business backend processes.

By developing a series of microservices across sales, ordering, and enterprise data systems, IBM will enable AT&T to improve backend processing with minimal downtime while allowing the whole business to adapt quickly to changing market dynamics through the deployment of new fast and easy to access services and capabilities.

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According to AT&T, microservices are an architectural style in which enterprise apps are made up of independent services working together. These apps are divided into small "blocks" or microservices, with each "block" supporting a specific business function, such as streamlined workflows or mobile payments.

An enterprise that offers a mobile payment function could conduct an upgrade or introduce a new feature without having to overhaul the whole app. Since microservices can also be combined in multiple ways to develop tailored solutions for internal and external needs, it allows AT&T to offer new capabilities quicker.

AT&T is already applying microservices in its network. Earlier this week, the service provider introduced Acumos, an artificial intelligence (AI) platform that allows customers to build, share and deploy AI applications, built with microservices.

The telco is also applying microservices to make its technician fleet more efficient with the introduction of what it calls Work Flow to help technicians deal with complex and disparate work flows while addressing customer issues. This application gives AT&T’s field technicians a microservice that pulls relevant resources together and walks a technician through the proper installation or repair steps, using a consistent yet customized approach.

An additional microservice allows AT&T to create, manage and track contracts across business products, eliminating several disparate processes that were previously in use. According to AT&T, the implementation of microservices in its internal operations has led to a savings of several million dollars per year. Several of AT&T’s teams can now introduce or recall many services in under 5 minutes.

Microservices are also being used within ONAP, the foundation of AT&T’s SDN network, which allows for the rapid delivery of virtual network functions to internal and external customers.

Out of the three largest telcos, AT&T has set what may be the most aggressive software transformation path. Having implemented software across 45% of its network, the service provider said it’s on track to reach 55% of its network by the end of the year.

Besides enabling faster service provisioning and activation times, microservices will also enable greater data security for large data-sharing communities. healthcare professionals will be able to work together on patient treatment plans while keeping identities safe, for example.