CenturyLink Announces Virtualization Plans, Creating Key Benefits for Partners

CenturyLink is swiftly converting its IP network and cloud data centers to software-defined networking (SDN).

CenturyLink's Bill O'BrienThe company is currently building an end-to-end network platform with SDN and network functions virtualization (NFV) capabilities to deliver a self-service application marketplace and on-demand services. It plans to virtualize 40 percent of its global IP core network locations by the end of 2015 and to have full global virtualization coverage in its IP core network and data centers by 2018.

Bill O’Brien, CenturyLink’s director of adaptive platforms, tells Channel Partners that opportunity and agility are some of the key benefits for its partners.

“The long-term intent is to allow our partners to consume our network services in a similar way customers consume any cloud service via robust APIs and portals,” he said. “The API capabilities will grow over time, enabling partners to compose and adapt network services. We’re very interested in working with partners to help identify and prioritize these capabilities.”

CenturyLink already built its NFV platform in 36 network and data center locations in seven countries, with plans to expand into a total of 44 locations by the end of the year.

In the coming months, CenturyLink will begin deploying a range of virtualized data and voice infrastructure services, including virtualized multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) routers and customer premises equipment (CPE) to enable delivery of scalable services for customers.

The company is replacing hardware with software over its recently launched programmable services backbone (PSB) to deliver new services to enterprises and SMBs through virtualized functions.

“Service provisioning will take from a few minutes to a few days, as opposed to a few days up to several months,” O’Brien said. “There will also be speed to market with new services and service feature releases.”

CenturyLink began implementing network virtualization and automation in 2013 when it partnered with five vendors to develop an open environment through common API structures, creating interoperability and enhancing the creation of applications, it said.

“With a long-term and modular solution in hand, we have easily replicated blueprints to enable a rapid conversion,” O’Brien said.

Integrating virtualized services into CenturyLink’s network, and developing an interactive marketplace and portal for its customers allows it to be “more responsive to market opportunities and meet changing customer demands,” said Aamir Hussain, CenturyLink’s executive vice president and chief technology officer.

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