Ma Bell Joins Big Blue to Bolster Managed Retail Services

By Doug Barney

AT&T and IBM, both well over 100 years old, aren’t just high tech survivors, they are also both prospering. AT&T is still a huge telecom leader, while IBM has been moving traditional on-premises wares to the cloud.

These are what brought the two together in building new services for retailers. AT&T is providing its cloud, along with network services and application management.

IBM, meanwhile, is bringing its eCommerce software to the table.

The new eCommerce-driven service is all about helping retailers provide better online shopping.

One selling point has to do with AT&T mature global network that should keep downtime to a minimum, and consumer uptime to a maximum.

In fact, AT&T already manages some of IBM’s top e-comm solutions such as WebSphere Commerce.

The new eCommerce offering can run in AT&T’s cloud or in an existing customer data center.

AT&T also plans to offer application tuning services and application acceleration so they run faster and are more available.

“Through our collaboration with IBM, we're offering retailers a unique 'one-stop-shop' for their eCommerce technology needs, with the potential to help them realize online sales growth and improve customer service,” said Steve Caniano, VP of Cloud Solutions, AT&T Business Solutions.

The duo argues that the new services, being services are faster to get up and running and simple to scale.

The service also integrates with IBM’s WebSphere Commerce, which AT&T already supports.

It also integrates with other AT&T offerings such as firewall management business intelligence, WiFi, network security, mobility and digital media.

“Teaming with AT&T, we can help retailers grow their businesses through deeper connections to shoppers across all channels,” said Craig Hayman, IBM Industry Solutions General Manager. “Flexible and predictable monthly pricing can help reduce IT investment and risk for growing organizations.”

IBM’s Commerce Cloud

Besides being in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for e-Commerce, Big Blue also made it big in “The Forrester Wave: B2C Commerce Suites, Q3 2012” report from Forrester Research.

Instead of e-Commerce, Forrester uses the term B2B Commerce, but they both really mean the same thing.

“IBM’s WebSphere Commerce represents a highly flexible and scalable enterprise B2C eCommerce solution; it shows significant adoption within the top tier of eCommerce retailers and continued successful growth. The IBM solution combines a rich set of eCommerce capabilities with a flexible service-oriented architecture (SOA) and integration capability, enabling the product to be extended and customized,” Forrester found.

All is not perfect in IBM eCommerce land, however.

“Clients have reported concerns over the total cost of ownership, as IBM’s solutions are less contemporary and use fewer open source elements and conventions that today’s developers are able to learn quickly. Business user tools such as the IBM Management Center have evolved, although they are no longer industry-leading, necessitating further investment by IBM,” Forrester concluded.

Edited by Alisen Downey

MSPToday Editor at Large

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