A New Platform for Hybrid IT: Platform CenturyLink

ThinkGig

IT people are doers, they make things happen. It’s just in their nature. So, when thought leaders talk about dramatic changes in technology affecting business and new digital business models, most IT people are already thinking, “What should we do about that?” They are ready for the business advantage that comes from a simpler, faster IT consumption process – one that also gives lines of businesses what they need at the speed they need it.

At CenturyLink, we are also doers. We are doing something tangible to support customers in the Gigabit economy. We are helping IT professionals bring about the digital transformation that everyone is talking about. We’re building a new platform for hybrid IT, a single point of control for virtually all IT assets and functions – a platform that enables IT managers to be agile. It’s called Platform CenturyLink.

Platform CenturyLink makes it possible to bring up environments and provide capabilities to end users, or to meet their needs very quickly, in different ways around different applications required by the business. Our goal with Platform CenturyLink is to place everything we offer to enterprise IT in a single management interface. The Platform gives IT efficient control over the network, public cloud assets, private cloud environments, legacy infrastructure, and applications a single UI to order network services and spin up machines automatically – basically do all sorts of tasks that used to require help tickets, phone calls and manual processes.

The insight that led to Platform CenturyLink was a realization that Hybrid IT is a promising reality, not a burden. Yes, you are going to be running everything you’ve got and adding cloud capabilities to the mix. While there is a lot of cloud migration going on, the truth is that most serious businesses are going to be continuing with all sorts of legacy systems for the foreseeable future. There is an opportunity to make it all work well together. We want to make it efficient to deal with this challenge. For this reason, Platform CenturyLink will combine network, cloud, hosting, and Colocation management into a highly scalable, API-driven toolset. It enables agility by unifying of all of our infrastructure, software, and network assets.

Looking at the Platform’s architecture from the data center, you start with a hybrid cloud infrastructure. Our goal is to enable you to create the right environment for a particular application. We’ll do this with an application marketplace that includes both business software applications as well as network function virtualization applications. What’s unique is our vision for near instant ability to instantiate isolated or public cloud or deploy a full range of solutions like managed Hadoop, Spark, SAP, Cloud Foundry or Docker.

The Platform will encompass our vision for a Software-Defined Network (SDN) controller through RESTful APIs to our network capability. In terms of the control of the network, we use traditional next generation standards like NetConf and OpenFlow, but we also have made a big investment in systems capabilities to interface with legacy network elements and their underlying element management system. And of course, our MPLS network will be the foundation gateway to business agility, connecting with a broad ecosystem of external services and all of our platform services.

With Platform CenturyLink we’re creating an environment where it’s easy for our customers to quickly take advantage of the latest technology to accelerate their businesses and outdistance their competition. A single, automated point of control makes for agile, efficient IT management. We’re putting it all together for you. With Platform CenturyLink, it is time to rethink CenturyLink.

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The Truth about Hybrid Cloud

ThinkGig

Last month we kicked off the “Hybrid IT Files” hangout with our inaugural episode on Data Gravity.   Next up is Hybrid Cloud and I have asked two of the industry’s top experts, Jesse Proudman, CTO from Blue box and Rob Smoot, Senior Director, Cloud Management from VMWare, to dig into the topic to uncover the truth with me. Here’s what we’ll probe… Computing hybrids are a common hybrid out in the industry today and the term gets used in a variety of scenarios. The “textbook” (PDF) definition refers to a mixed deployment model that ensures data portability. So we’ll dig into this and the reality of Hybrid Cloud Computing in the marketplace. Plus, we’ll tackle questions, such as:

  • What are the common deployment methods for Hybrid Cloud computing?  Are virtualization technologies kept constant?  Is one technology suite used, or do enterprise architects use diverse vendors?
  • What are the real and practical workloads that work in this model, and what benefits does the enterprise receive?
  • Are there extreme examples of Hybrid Cloud in practice?  Or does usage follow fairly common practices?

To be missed? No way! It’s going to be a good discussion, so join me live next Thursday, January 29th at 9:00 a.m. PST watch and join the conversation on Crowdchat and following our tweets leading up to the show at #HybridITFiles.

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CenturyLink’s IT Journey to the Cloud: A New Path We’ve Walked Many Times Before

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A series on CenturyLink’s Information Technology team’s move into the cloud

By Bill Bradley, Chief Information Officer, CenturyLink

CenturyLink IT is on a journey to the cloud. This move reflects the transition that CenturyLink itself is making from being a telecommunications provider to a cloud and network provider. As an IT department, that means we have to evolve and become more agile and service-oriented and our strategy has to include cloud. It’s been far from simple, but in some important ways, it’s a new journey that we’ve actually taken many times before.

Since I joined CenturyLink in 1985, the company has grown by orders of magnitude through acquisitions. Each acquisition has brought new systems, assets, people, and processes. We’ve had to integrate thousands of unrelated IT resources into our own over the years. For this reason, moving to a new technological foundation for IT is not a wholly new process.

We actually started this journey about six years ago by rationalizing the number of IT data centers we had absorbed through our many acquisitions. Consolidating applications required us to focus on virtualization. We created a virtual private cloud in the remaining datacenters. Our current work involves taking this process even further using recently acquired cloud platform technologies. We’re moving identified applications in our portfolio directly into the cloud using our own CenturyLink Cloud platform as if it was a third party vendor.

Our move to the cloud is driven by a desire to control costs and increase speed to market. The cloud helps with both goals. Our IT organization is getting out of the business of being the infrastructure part of the solution so we can focus on being the application and business provider of the solution. It also shifts the conversation around costs moving investment from your capital budget to your expense budget for infrastructure and applications. Development teams creating a new solution aren’t waiting weeks for hardware and infrastructure. Solutions begin to be built in a matter of days.

There have been a few hard decisions to make along the way. For one thing, there is no such thing as “moving to the cloud” when you’re a large enterprise. For years to come there will be many extant systems that we need to keep running as part of our core business. Our approach to bi-modal IT and the move to the cloud is to put what we call a “Cap and Grow” process into effect. We “cap” our investment in legacy applications, deriving value by keeping them in production while we innovate around them. We “grow” applications that are strategic to our business, investing in new applications and systems that we can move from on-premises data centers into the cloud.

We’ve taken a portfolio approach to applications, consolidating software assets by 23% since 2010. To make this work, we’ve added service layers and leveraged our own cloud platform to move applications from an on-premises model to either public or private cloud hosting. Products and services are built on a foundation that requires rapid evolution in today’s world. So, we’ve had to adopt different methodologies that allow us to change at the same speed that business changes. When we turn application functionality into an on-demand “micro service,” we use a newly adopted agile approach, fast-tracking the process.

Most IT organizations don’t like change, but I’ve encouraged my team to foster a culture of change. Changing what we do is a path we’ve been down numerous times before, but it’s new every time. The cloud can be daunting, but it needn’t be. My advice to CIOs that are considering moving to the cloud is to stay close to your mission.

In our case, our mission is to provide solutions to our business partners on time and on budget. As a result, we’ve approached the cloud with the same basic principles we’ve always applied: What will it take to provide solutions that are customer-focused, growth-oriented, and cost-effective? That’s our baseline. The cloud is no exception. Everything we’ve done to plan for the cloud and start our journey there is based on these fundamental principles that we’ve exercised so many times before.

Over the next eight weeks CenturyLink IT will be sharing insights and best practices from our journey to the cloud. Please check back soon for more!

 

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Walk Me to the Car… 3 Things I Need to Know about the Cloud

ThinkGig

If you’ve ever chased down a busy exec to pitch an idea or get an answer on a pressing issue, you’ve invariably heard the request “Can we talk about this while we walk?” Execs are the ultimate multi-taskers.

Our new “Walk me to the car” series is a power-packed questions and answers that quickly address what any busy top business exec needs to know on topics of Hybrid IT and cloud. Today’s topic: Cloud computing. Here goes…

What are the Top 3 Things I need to Know about the Cloud today?

1)     The cloud is ready for duty at big companies. The technology has evolved and become a lot more sophisticated than it was even a year ago. There’s been a general acceleration of capacity: more sophisticated software and computing power; more storage; faster bandwidth. Usage is becoming more common, with Gartner predicting that half of enterprises will have a “hybrid cloud”- a public cloud/private cloud combo – by 2017[1].

2)     Yes, it’s hyped, but a lot of the hype is true, or at least rooted in corporate reality. A lot of companies really are doing highly advanced IT work a lot more quickly than they used to, and at lower cost.

3)     It’s more than just technology. The cloud represents a different approach to IT on many levels. Yes, the cloud is technically about using someone else’s computers in a remote location and paying for use, not hardware. But, it’s also about rethinking the whole way that IT can serve the needs of the business. The technology enables a change in traditional IT and business roles in figuring out how to be most innovative and competitive.

blog-cloud-keyboardGive me two good reasons to do it.

1)     IT projects can be rolled out more quickly – The cloud can help us launch operational initiatives and M&A projects faster than can be done with existing IT. We save the time it usually takes to acquire servers, build data centers, and set up software. A lot of that can be done automatically and more or less instantly with the cloud.

2)     CapX gets cut - The cloud helps us reduce capital expenditures on IT infrastructure and data centers. The equipment and network we use are on someone else’s balance sheet. The cloud is a “pay as you go” not “pay up front.” When you need more capacity, like on “Cyber Monday,” you increase your cloud service. On Tuesday, you can turn it off. We can conserve cash for other uses.

Give me two things to be worried about.

  1. Keeping consistent with security – While the hype about the cloud being insecure has faded, it can still be a challenge to ensure a consistent security framework across bi-modal, or hybrid IT infrastructures. (The old stuff and the new stuff.) When talking to a cloud service provider, find out whether they can utilize a common security model across physical and virtual machines. A 3rd party security tool, or a different could provider, might be needed.
  1. Execution and organizational challenges – There can be unexpected costs and delays if a cloud project is not well planned. Some cloud service providers expect us to do a lot more of the in-depth technical work than we’re expecting, even though it’s on their equipment. Expert guidance on cloud projects can help mitigate this risk. Not every company has people on staff who really know how to make the most of it.   For instance, the cloud tends to push software developers and IT operations managers into a single unit, which can cause organizational stress. The [best approach is to combine a move to the cloud with an overall change management program.

What is the takeaway idea for me in all of this?   Cloud computing presents an opportunity to be more agile and operate more economically, especially with regard to CapX. At the same time, it represents an organizational shift to a new way of doing IT. It can bear fruit if it’s thought through as a complete IT/organizational change.

The Crib Sheet

CUT ME OUT for the WALK TO THE CAR

——————————————————–

What are the Top 3 Things I need to Know about the Cloud today?

1)     It’s ready for big business.

2)     It’s hyped, but a lot of the hype is true.

3)     It’s more than a technology. It’s a different approach to IT on many levels.

Give me two good reasons to do it

  1. IT projects can be rolled out more quickly
  2. CapX gets cut

Give me two things to be worried about

1)     Keeping consistent with security across old (on-premise) and new (cloud) systems.

2)     Underestimating the execution/people/organizational side of the process

What is the takeaway idea for me in all of this? It’s an opportunity to be more agile and operate more economically, but it’s also an organizational shift to a new way of doing IT.

[1] https://www.gartner.com/doc/2637515/forecast-it-services–q

 

 

 

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Connected Colocation from CenturyLink

ThinkGig

The ever growing expectations of the IT department have created capital and human resource challenges, leading to significant growth in data center outsourcing, and to colocation becoming a $25B market. The most common objectives driving outsourcing are shifting IT resources from daily administration tasks to innovation activities that drive business growth such as helping set strategy, evaluating new technologies and enabling new revenue opportunities. However that goal can be thwarted when IT outsourcing becomes an exercise in vendor management, such as when the use of multiple vendors delays root cause analysis of events. With multiple vendors, you are only as fast as the lowest SLA or longest support response time. iStock_000012686333low2

For many companies the first step towards outsourced IT infrastructure will begin with colocation because the enterprise maintains control of all of hardware and software configurations, while still being able to realize the financial and operational benefits of outsourcing by getting out of the business of managing non-differentiating tasks such as datacenter operations, physical security, cooling, power, etc. By providing a large breadth of IT services, CenturyLink has made it easier to take that first step.

CenturyLink eases our customers migration to colocation by providing a single source solution comprised of colocation and network services. This Connected Colocation Bundle allows customers to outsource all of their datacenter operations with a single contract, SLA and support provider.

Connected Colocation includes the traditional colocation services – space, power and cooling – in a premier data center facility with a 100% SLA for uptime, temperature and humidity, coupled with network services to seamlessly connect IT assets to both our Tier 1 Internet backbone and your corporate network. This enables colocated applications to operate at LAN speeds while eliminating the resource drain of maintaining an on premise data center environment.The bundle also includes remote support and cross connects to provide a turnkey solution under a single contract with lower total cost of ownership.

By bringing together the assets of CenturyLink, Qwest and Savvis, our team is able to offer a unique bundle of data center services that enables our customers not only to meet, but exceed their IT outsourcing goals.

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Advancing in the Gigabit Economy

ThinkGig
The Gigabit Economy

Shirish Lal discusses The Gigabit Economy

The IT sector is having one of its periodic moments of congruity and clarity, where seemingly disparate trends come together and form the basis for accelerated change.Several key technologies have matured and created a nexus of rapid innovation: High-performance/low-cost bandwidth, cloud-based computing, and the virtualization of machines and network functions, plus the proliferation of smart and mobile devices enable enterprises to be competitive using new IT models. When businesses seize on unlimited bandwidth, computational power, and scale for strategic advantage, we like to call this the “The Gigabit Economy.”

The overall IT ecosystem is shifting under our feet as the Gigabit Economy ushers in a new phase of cloud growth. The data supports the notion that things are not the same, and won’t be the same in enterprise IT going forward. Gartner posits that half of enterprises will have hybrid clouds by 2017[1].

You can see the changes taking place when you consider how difficult it was historically to consume, produce and distribute applications. Buying a major piece of enterprise software like an ERP application or database required an IT department to make a major upfront purchase at a significant cost. It was typically a lengthy decision-making process across IT, line of business, finance and the executive team. Overall, a very difficult and time-consuming process for everyone involved.

Now we have a radically new approach. You pay for software on per-use basis rather than upfront.  Gartner projects that the global SaaS market will grow by 20.2% per year, or from $18.2 billion in 2012 to $45.6 billion in 2017[2]. The pay-per-use fee also includes the hardware it’s running on, maintenance, security and connectivity. It’s a very different risk profile. The result is a real simplification of the consumption process. With this, a lot of things change, and we’re leading the way.

The Gigabit Economy opens the door to wholly new digital business models and the disruption of industries. One telling note of change is how more and more technology decisions are being guided by line of business managers. They are taking advantage of a simpler, faster IT consumption process to speed up their time to value. Bandwidth, software platforms, hardware, network are all available on demand. Companies can focus on their core businesses and not get caught up in infrastructure.  They can develop and deploy applications in the cloud, leveraging a host of options from dedicated servers to containers. The business unit gets what it wants more quickly and IT stops taking the unfair rap for being slow.

We fuel this kind of innovation by building the cloud, network, and security services that support big data and big apps.Our goal is to give businesses the speed and agility to seize market opportunities and deliver better online customer experiences. To be at the forefront of the Gigabit Economy, we have harnessed our own innovation and assets to create Platform CenturyLink, a new way of working with us to realize your business strategies through enterprise-class cloud computing.

Platform CenturyLink unifies our previously separate products and service offerings into single point of control. The Platform puts our network, cloud, hosting, and co-location assets into a highly scalable, API-driven service offering that’s easy to manage. Through a single interface, you can manage sophisticated IT projects in the cloud across all phases of their lifecycles. If you want to innovate in the Gigabit Economy, we give you the means to move your ideas forward quickly and economically. With the Gigabit Economy in effect and Platform CenturyLink, you can confidently create and deploy sophisticated IT projects in a cycle that’s fast enough to keep you out in front. We help businesses succeed in the faster, ever-changing Gigabit economy.

I invite you to give it a test drive. It’s time to get started!

[1] https://www.gartner.com/doc/2637515/forecast-it-services–q
[2] https://www.gartner.com/doc/2637515/forecast-it-services–q

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Key Takeaways from the Gartner Conference: How IT is Helping to Revolutionize the Enterprise

ThinkGig

Vice President of Colocation Product Management

CenturyLink recently was a premier sponsor of the Gartner Data Center, Infrastructure and Operations Management Conference. The conference provided an excellent opportunity for industry leaders to learn and exchange ideas.

I had the pleasure of hosting the Centurylink panel session, attended by over 185 people. Our panelists shared interesting insight into the effect new technology decisions have made to their business goals. I would like to thank Paris Georgallis, Senior Vice President, RMS, Sriram Sitaraman, Director, Synopsys and Lee Kirby, CTO, Uptime Institute for their participation and insight.

Here are some key takeaways from the panel event:

  • RMS discussed their decision to broaden their target market by expanding their offering into a SaaS model and implementing a cloud version of their tool called RMSONE. They are looking forward to the ability to more quickly integrate product upgrades and enhancements and to be able to provide the scale required for peak activities and timeframes.
  • Synopsys spoke about the challenges of integrating multiple companies through multiple acquisitions. Bringing on so many different firms provided an IT nightmare and inefficiencies for Synopsys due to the fact that each acquired company had their own systems, processes and procedures. Sriram spoke about their solution to implement a private cloud solution which acts as a portal for all the disparate systems and now provides the ability for a collaborative environment while still maintaining individual technology requirements.
  • Uptime Institute discussed what should be required of the provider you partner with, and the need to authenticate the ability for data center and colocation provider partners to really ensure they are delivering 100% uptime. Uptime Institute provides that audit for you through their Tier 1 – Tier IV design, build and operational sustainability accreditations. For the on-going operations of the data center, Uptime has the M&O Certification program. At the Gartner Event it was announced that CenturyLink has made the commitment to certify all 57 data centers globally with the Uptime M&O stamp of approval.

It’s such an interesting time to be providing IT services. A recent study stated 71% of 1700 CEO’s see technology as the number one factor to drive company success; it really puts the CIO in the spotlight to showcase innovation to help grow the business.

As an IT outsource provider it is imperative that we deliver above and beyond expectations. We understand our customer’s reputations, brand and success rely on the service being always available and at a price point that provides a clear ROI.

Click here to view the panel in its entirety.

http://gartner.mediasite.com/mediasite/play/6e07e454b6924d6cade4deb577afc7ce?playFrom=74797&autoStart=true&popout=true

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Data to Decisions – Welcoming Cognilytics to the CenturyLink Team

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Executives-announce-dayIs your organization discovering that like cloud, big data is really, really hard? Depending on who you listen to, organizations are using big data to analyze a small fraction of their data or none at all. Why? The influx of data is too great, the tools are new and have a steep learning curve, and the talent pool is expensive and limited.

Although big data is hard, organizations still see its promise. Big data today is a classic supply and demand problem. There is a vast supply of data and a demand for people and solutions to turn that data into decisions that create revenue.

Read more…

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