The Centurylink Technology Solutions Blog - Trends in IT Infrastructure

On Playing to Win in the Cloud

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Having spent more than a decade as an executive in the corporate technology field, I sometimes find myself a bit mystified by the prognostications about who is winning and losing in the race for dominance in any given category.


The enterprise cloud falls into this pattern, with observers discussing the industry as if it were a football game at halftime -- the winners clearly delineated and the competition all but over. I beg to differ. If enterprise cloud were a football game on TV, we would barely be at the "brought to you by" commercial in the pre-game show. Clearly the players are on the field, and today we are going to show that CenturyLink is most definitely in the game.

We come at the cloud with a track record of success serving large corporate clients. The enterprise service model is in our DNA. The last five years have been a period of tremendous growth and buildup for us. We have invested strategically in IT services acquisitions and investments to be a top provider of infrastructure services globally. We are building a formidable machine in the cloud by uniting the innovation and market strength of CenturyLink and our global network with key acquisitions we've made, including Savvis, Tier 3, AppFog, Ciber's ITO business and Qwest's legacy hosting.


This momentum will continue. The goal is to win in hybrid solutions, to take advantage of our unique position to enable global enterprises as they transform to "IT as a Service" models. Network, colo, cloud and managed services together.


With 32 cloud-enabled data centers, we have built one of the largest cloud footprints in the world and are experts at running cloud at scale. Now we are rapidly expanding our flagship public cloud - CenturyLink Cloud - to 16 nodes around the world. But, we're not content just to be big. We are also accelerating the pace of our industry-leading cloud innovation. Our Seattle Cloud Development Center - featuring our own championship lineup of Jared WrayLucas Carlson and a host of other standouts - delivers on an agile 21-day release cycle. We are a pace setter in cloud innovation. Since November, we've released more major new cloud capabilities than 75 percent of the Gartner MQ providers combined (based on publicly available release notes).


We are taking the lead in offering an enterprise cloud that is both IT ready as well as developer friendly. We differentiate from the market with our built-in management, orchestration and platform services that enable hybrid cloud solutions across our data center service portfolio. With this "built in, not bolted on" strategy, we are optimizing both the hard costs and people costs it takes to deploy and manage cloud services at scale. We believe we can help our customers achieve a more competitive total cost of ownership. We're backing up that belief with what industry benchmarks say is best-in-class performance and our own analysis that shows a truly compelling price/performance value.


To cap it off, today we are pleased to announce restructured pricing and support models. These changes ensure CenturyLink Cloud is extremely market competitive with the largest pure-play cloud providers while providing the added value of a solid list of standard features, including our integrated advanced management and orchestration.


In addition to being a football fan, I'm a numbers guy. Let me share a few more stats with you that put our potential to win in the cloud in perspective:


·         1,000. More than 1,000 enterprises trust CenturyLink to help them achieve infrastructure agility.

·         2. CenturyLink is the second largest retail data center colocation provider in North America.

·         56. CenturyLink's 56 data centers serve 85 countries with 100 percent proven uptime. Our Tier III certified sites feature more than 2.5 million square feet of gross raised floor space.

·         240,000. We own a 240,000-route-mile fiber network. As a global Network Service Provider, we offer increased security and quality of service into the cloud through our own Internet connectivity services and MPLS access.

·         16. CenturyLink's flagship cloud is offered from 11 data centers today, with planned expansion to 16, among the largest number of cloud nodes in a single cloud platform.

·         21. With a 21-day release cycle, this year CenturyLink Cloud has released more new cloud capabilities than eight other companies in Gartner's Cloud Magic Quadrant combined.

·         40. Recent Cloud Harmony benchmarks show CenturyLink Cloud Hyperscale delivers 40 percent better CPU performance than AWS c3 class, and 20 percent better than Rackspace Performance Server (8 and 16 core servers). We are excited to see CenturyLink recognized as a cloud performance leader.

·          8. Did I mention Cloud Harmony shows CenturyLink Cloud Hyperscale servers offer 8x the disk read performance of AWS c3 class and 3x Rackspace Performance Server (4 cores, 16k block sequential read)? Nice!

·         1. The number of places you need to look to find market-competitive cloud pricing. The CenturyLink Cloud is the same or less expensive than every AWS m3 server type and EVERY equivalent AWS c3 (compute optimized) server type for CPU + RAM.


CenturyLink's growth over the last decade is indisputable, as is its current focus on cloud. Not being distracted by a consumer wireless business has undoubtedly helped, but I believe motivation determines focus. The motivations of the players in the cloud market should not be ignored, whether it be to try and salvage revenues from the disruption cloud brings to the market in disappearing software licenses or hardware sales, or simply to leverage assets that would otherwise be idle. One thing is clear: Those that remain focused on the customer and are serious about winning will be the ones to watch. In the words of famous English Football Manager Bill Shankly, "Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I can assure you it is much more important than that."


CenturyLink is focused and is taking this competition seriously.


Andrew Higginbotham is senior vice president, cloud and technology, at CenturyLink Technology Solutions.

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You are correct that the "race" is one of public opinion without fully understanding the merit of all offerings. I have been very impressed with CenturyLink's offerings and am looking forward to seeing you build out services to complement your PaaS solution. That said, I believe you have documented your own dilemma; you have a market awareness and perception hurdle. In your own words you're Betamax in a VHS race if your goal is to be "seen" as a leader. That said, there's nothing wrong with silently acquiring a solid enterprise customer base even if the only evidence of your leadership is where you end up on the Gartner quadrant. If you goal is to take a market leadership position, then, IMHO, it's going to require an extraordinary leap in capabilities. You will need to deliver either an innovative service or capability that demonstrates that you're more than an "me too" cloud service provider.

Thanks for commenting, JP. It would be great to have you connect up with our team and see our cloud in action so you really understand our capabilities.

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