AT&T extends NetBond service to secure IoT connections

The VPN service now works with AT&T's Control Center for IoT device management

The internet is what made IoT happen, providing a common protocol to take the place of separate, specialized networks. But the public internet itself may not always be the best path between a connected device and the cloud.

Enterprises can now connect cellular IoT devices to back-end systems via NetBond, a private network service from AT&T, instead of the Internet. The NetBond service sets up a VPN (virtual private network) from an edge device to the cloud. It can connect to 16 different public clouds, including Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, or a private or hybrid cloud.

The carrier announced NetBond for IoT at an event on Wednesday meant to showcase the benefits of AT&T’s software-defined networking. More than one-third of AT&T’s infrastructure is virtualized now, and over half should be by the end of this year, the company said.

Specifically, what AT&T has done is combine NetBond with AT&T’s Control Center IoT services platform, which is an IaaS (infrastructure as a service) for managing connected devices. Control Center is based on IoT provisioning and management technology from Jasper Technologies, which Cisco Systems acquired last year. About 600 AT&T customers use Control Center, AT&T says.

NetBond shields IoT traffic from Internet threats like DDoS attacks and has a portal for controlling things like bandwidth and latency on the links between edge devices and the cloud. It’s designed to make IoT connections more predictable and meet the requirements of applications in areas like manufacturing, health care and city infrastructure.

The offering plays into concerns that enterprises have about IoT, according to GlobalData analyst Peter Jarich. GlobalData surveys show many enterprises hold back from using IoT because of security worries and sometimes get even more concerned after they start working with it, he said.

NetBond for IoT works with devices on AT&T’s network in the U.S. and partner carriers’ systems in other countries. It’s available worldwide.

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