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Microsoft, AT&T Ink Deal Around Microsoft 365, AI and Edge Computing

Microsoft put the spotlight on its strategic collaborations during Day 3 of its Inspire partner conference in Las Vegas, chief among them a "multiyear" alliance with AT&T.

The telecom giant has inked a deal with Microsoft around its use of Microsoft 365, as well as joint efforts centered on the use of 5G wireless networks to support edge computing and artificial intelligence (AI).

As part of the agreement, AT&T is planning to use Microsoft 365 technologies for "much of its workforce," including Microsoft's productivity and collaboration software. In addition, the telco plans to move its "non-network infrastructure applications" over to Microsoft Azure datacenters, with Microsoft becoming AT&T's "preferred cloud provider" for those applications.

The two companies also pledged to continue to work together on the use of 5G wireless networking to support edge computing capabilities. They've already worked together on a drone airspace safety effort, which leveraged Azure Stack for edge computing operations, as described by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella back in May. They've also already created "joint enterprise solutions for networking, IoT [Internet of Things], and blockchain in market, and expect to announce additional services later in 2019," Microsoft's announcement noted.

The two companies are planning to bring some of these specific collaborative efforts to market at some point.

"The companies will bring to market integrated industry solutions including in the areas of voice, collaboration and conferencing, intelligent edge and networking, IoT, public safety, and cyber security," the announcement explained. A specific application mentioned was the provision of AI-supported translation services to assist first-responder workers when working with people who speak a different language.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella (left) and AT&T Communications CEO John Donovan. (Source: Microsoft)

Other Partner Efforts
Microsoft issued another announcement on Wednesday describing other partnerships and collaborations. Unilever is using Microsoft Teams and Yammer to support communications among its 155,000 employees worldwide, along with Power BI for data analysis. Unilever is also using Azure IoT technologies to support its supply chain network.

Walgreens Boots Alliance plans to use Azure and its AI platform, plus Microsoft 365 solutions, to support "outpatient healthcare services" and "new retail solutions" for its drug stores. 

Microsoft is claiming that "more than 95 percent of the Fortune 500" companies are using Azure services. Other key partnerships include collaborations with SAP and Adobe. Microsoft also has a "cloud interoperability partnership with Oracle using Azure Analytics and AI technologies. In addition, cloud services provider ServiceNow plans to use Azure as its "preferred" cloud platform, Microsoft announced earlier this month.

Microsoft also is continuing to partner with Red Hat, hosting its solutions on Azure datacenter infrastructure. Red Hat's acquisition by IBM for $34 billion closed earlier this month.

On Tuesday, IBM announced that it, too, had established a multiyear strategic alliance with AT&T. IBM will support AT&T's business applications, along with providing software-defined networking, 5G, edge computing and IoT support using Red Hat solutions.

Microsoft also has a strategic partnership in place with Dell Technologies on supporting certified VMware virtualization solutions on Azure datacenters, with the ability to also "extend Microsoft 365 and Windows Virtual Desktop" to the Azure platform, the announcement indicated.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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