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AT&T Sets Sights on Cloud Computing

cloud computing
U.S. phone company AT&T (NYSE: T) has joined the likes of Google (NASDAQ: GOOG), Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) and IBM (NYSE: IBM) in delivering Web-based business services from its datacenters rather than having customers run the services themselves.

The new service, which is a part of AT&T's $1 billion planned global network investment in 2008, will span the United States, Europe and Asia.

AT&T's latest move reflects the company's efforts to capitalize on the shift by customers away from in-house computer systems to "cloud computing" -- a less expensive alternative.

One of AT&T's first customers is the U.S. Olympic Committee, whose official Web site is powered by AT&T's service, the company said in a release.

Last week, Yahoo, Intel and HP announced an ambitious research initiative focusing on creating six worldwide labs to study cloud computing and to offer time on their datacenters to researchers.

The plan also involves Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Germany's Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and a grant from the National Science Foundation. The effort's six locations are expected to become fully operational later this year, when they'll become available to researchers through a worldwide selection process.

Last year, Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) and IBM (NYSE: IBM) also announced a joint project in conjunction with several universities.

However, the efforts of those companies, new players like AT&T, and the slew of others exploring cloud computing technology, may hit a stumbling block in the form of a trademark on "cloud computing" owned by Dell (NASDAQ: DELL).

Dell's basis for the trademark is the Cloud Computing Solution, which it announced in March 2007. The trademark application was filed soon after.

The PC maker has said that it's considering how to use its trademark.