AT&T Digs Deeper into Microservices, AI

Carl Weinschenk

AT&T made two significant and related announcements this week.

The carrier launched a microservices supplier program that it says will enable businesses to upgrade their functionality far more quickly and in a more targeted manner than in the past.

The new service is in collaboration with IBM. Big Blue will help the carrier design, develop and deploy the microservices, which will cross sales, ordering and enterprise data. The press release defines microservices as a series of independent services working in concert to provide the desired functionality to end users:

Take a mobile payment function, for example. If it needs an upgrade or a new feature, it’s now possible to make changes without overhauling the whole app. Microservices can also be combined in multiple ways to develop tailored solutions for internal and external needs. This lets us offer new capabilities faster than ever before.


The other announcement was the creation of the Acumos Project. The initiative is being undertaken in collaboration with Tech Mahindra, an Indian IT services provider. The goal, according to Silicon Angle, is to create “an open-source artificial intelligence platform.”

Artificial intelligence (AI), the piece says, has a couple of foundational problems: It is expensive and exceedingly complex. The Acumos Project is aimed at meeting both of those challenges. The goal, the story says,  is to establish a framework for machine learning that provides the ability to edit, compose, integrate, package, train and AI-based microservices.

The story offers an example that explains the idea of microservices is the desire build an AI-based analytics app. Instead of building it from scratch, Acumos-hosted elements for such things as location tracking and facial recognition can be linked together to provide the desired service.

Significantly, the initiative is open source and will be hosted by the Linux Foundation. Thus, everything developed by the companies, and whoever joins them, will be available for free to anyone who wants them.

IT Pro points out the relationship between microservices and service-oriented architectures (SOA). The linkage of independent preexisting modules, if it can be done securely, is a bit of a no-brainer in an environment in which services must be introduced very quickly. In addition to creating services more quickly, microservices can be more sharply targeted, according to the story:

Another characteristic of microservices is that they are structured around business competencies and needs. Whereas a monolithic application development process has different teams focusing on UIs, databases, layers, or server-side code, microservice architecture uses cross-functional teams. These teams are responsible for making explicit products based on one or many individual services communicating via a message bus.

The new world of service creation is a fast one. Microservices, DevOps and related processes are designed to keep organizations competitive in an industry that now needs to get things done in a New York minute.

Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at cweinsch@optonline.net and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.


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