CenturyLink launches broad IT services because... it's different strokes for different folks

The future state of enterprise IT is going to be far more complex and heterogeneous than today. CenturyLink realizes this and is today rolling out the product updated to give people more choice.


Only a few short years ago, people on both sides of the cloud continuum had very fixed, and very constrained, views of what infrastructure should look like. On one side of the house, you had those decrying "the false cloud" and warning of the risks of using anything that didn't meet some dogmatic view of what cloud actually constitutes. On the other side of the house were the doomsday prophets who warned of the calamitous consequences that would occur should anyone use something that even resembled the cloud.

That was a few years ago and, thankfully, we've all moved on a little. The messaging is far more mature these days. Salesforce, the originator of the "beware the false cloud" message, even doffs its cap in the direction of private cloud (famously giving HP its own private instance of Salesforce). Meanwhile, Amazon Web Services, the king of the public cloud, is making a previously considered heretical move and building private clouds for some well-heeled customers.

And for everyday organizations also, there is a growing realization that the future will be increasingly complex and that organizations will, for the most part, use a plethora of different IT elements. There will undoubtedly be some public cloud in there, but there will also be some on-premises stuff, some bare metal stuff and utilization of services above simple infrastructure - Platform as a Service (PaaS) and developer tools from the likes of Twilio and Mailgun will all come into play here. As CenturyLink's VP of Cloud, Richard Seroter wrote:

...A typical business system has a number of components that comprise the overall solution. In the case below, a mobile user comes into the system via an app that leverages an API offered by the company. That API gateway needs to be scalable and highly available. The API retrieves lists of houses/rentals from a high performing database that needs a flexible schema to account for evolving data structures. Customers can also use a web front-end app that shows listings. There's a larger database that stores customer records, and a set of internal apps used to manage housing listings, track disclosure compliance, and run billing cycles. Additionally, developers have an elastic development/testing/staging environment to work on pre-production versions of this entire system. I’d be willing to bet that you have systems that look similar, albeit with countless variations to account for your application integration processes, line-of-business systems, file storage repositories, and more. 

It is for this reason that CenturyLink is today greatly expanding the variety it offers in terms of IT services. This telco, which is doing a copybook job of moving into the cloud world, has made some high-profile acquisitions in recent years - Savvis, Tier3 and AppFog among them. Today sees the company roll all of that and more together into a cohesive and consistent platform. Referencing Seroter once again:

As of today, CenturyLink offers a single, integrated platform that gives you the power to run each component of your system in the optimal service. Today, we're releasing Bare Metal Servers, AppFog, WordPress-as-a-Service, and much more. ...you might run the API service in AppFog so that you have a quickly scaled, highly available service with built-in support for Java, Node.js, Go, PHP, and more. Our Orchestrate NoSQL database is a great fit for the flexible listings database, and you could run the large relational database on a Bare Metal server. The front-end web application should run in our new WordPress service and take advantage of the quick development time and rich ecosystem. The listings business application would run well in an elastic virtual environment with a managed web server, and the billing/compliance systems might be best in CenturyLink Private Cloud. Customers using virtual machines, Bare Metal servers, AppFog, or Private Cloud can manage their environments from a single dashboard and easily connect all of their services.


Eureka! While it may be trendy to talk about the single solution for all your IT needs, the reality is very different. Hybrid IT, both from a horizontal perspective (different flavors of base infrastructure) and from a vertical one (infra, platform, developer tools etc) is the way forward. 

CenturyLink has been listening to real world customers and has delivered on what they really need - one "throat to choke,"one management dashboard but lots and lots of different flavors of service. There's little to moan about in all of this and the fact that this level of prescience comes from a telco is pretty amazing. I've long been a little skeptical about telcos' ability to wise up and get with the modern way of doing things, but CenturyLink shows us there is still hope.

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