CenturyLink CTO: Now the Fun Starts

Craig Matsumoto
11/2/2017

With CenturyLink and Level 3 closing their $34 billion merger yesterday, CenturyLink CTO Aamir Hussain is ready to act on his vision of a multicloud world where his company can help move workflows anywhere.

Hussain had set CenturyLink Inc. (NYSE: CTL) on that path after joining the carrier in 2014. Now he gets to apply the same kind of transformation to Level 3 Communications Inc. (NYSE: LVLT)

It's been a year-and-a-half-long process, during which the companies worked on parts of the integration allowable by law -- connecting to one another's networks, for example. "We are well on our way to combining our product portfolio," Hussain says. "Both companies have customers who buy services from both of us. We need to make sure that integration is seamless."

The bigger part of the transformation, though, is in applying SDN and NFV to create new services that can help fuel the carrier's profitability.

"I see a network where we'll have multiple NFV forms. Some will be from us, some from our partners," Hussain tells Light Reading. "But it's got to be about customer simplicity. If customers want to automate their workflows, they need to leave that complexity to us." And CenturyLink, in turn, will turn to partners for the functions that the carrier hasn't mastered.

Hussain wants CenturyLink to play a major role in the multicloud -- deployments where an enterprise is making use of multiple public clouds and a private cloud as well. "Today they can get there, but they have to call four different providers," he says. "We are definitely there for our customers who want the flexibility to migrate from a private cloud to someone else's public cloud."

The vision isn't unique. Vendors such as VMware, for instance, are working on letting customers spread workflows arbitrarily among private clouds and web-scale public clouds like Amazon Web Services (AWS). (See VMware Debuts Multi-Cloud Management Services.)

But for carriers, the multicloud is of particular interest, because it could represent traffic that traverses the network unmonetized. It's dozens of terabytes' worth, he said at Light Reading's Big Communications Event in May. CenturyLink is probably not alone in wanting to turn that traffic into a service. (See CenturyLink CTO Updates on Transformation 'Journey'.)

In this video interview from BCE, Hussain talks in more detail about CenturyLink's ongoing SDN transformation and the services that automated orchestration can enable.



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— Craig Matsumoto, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

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