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AT&T: Another Clap of Thunder in the Cloud?

February 9, 2011
by Joe Marion
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AT&T to provide vendor-neutral, cloud-based medical imaging storage solutions

Last week AT&T sent another clap of thunder through the cloud with its announced relationship with Acuo Technologies and its intention to provide vendor-neutral, cloud-based medical imaging storage solutions for healthcare. As I mentioned in my prior blog, Dell Creates Thunder in the Cloud!, Dell has set a precedent that I speculated others would follow in terms of jumping on the bandwagon for managing health information.

What is intriguing about AT&T joining the fray is the breadth of its services. With the addition of Acuo’s capabilities AT&T now can not only manage images via the Internet and managed networks, but they can also deliver access via their wireless network. And with the most recent announcement of FDA approval of MIM Software’s MIM Manager application for the iPad and iPhone, it looks like AT&T will have leverage in terms of wireless delivery, since for the moment; AT&T is the largest iPhone/iPad service provider.

The wireless connection could give AT&T a competitive edge unless others quickly add wireless capabilities. There is nothing glamorous about storing the data, and cloud-based storage is certainly a cost-competitive market. Unique applications for image access could be a more profitable area that AT&T can exploit.The only downside I see? Will such applications further tax their network and degrade services? Only time will tell.

As I recall, an AT&T predecessor (Ameritech) tried to address the image storage market once before. Clearly, the timing was not right. But my recollection is that costs were also an issue, as the service was deemed too expensive. It may be that timing is everything, and this time around both the market and economics make more sense.

So, is there a new storm brewing in the cloud? Will this move further accelerate market options and inspire others to introduce solutions or make acquisitions? What about Verizon? Will they now follow suit and announce similar capabilities? And what does this mean for companies such as Dell? They have the infrastructure and services, but will they now be threatened by the communications channel? And what of companies such as Harris Corporation that are sitting on high-technology communications infrastructure? Will they become a game changer?

For now, only time will tell, but I expect there will be a lot of back room conversations at the upcoming HIMSS! Keep those umbrellas handy! I predict a lot of announcements and new capabilities raining down from the cloud.

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