SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- NFV & the Data Center -- CenturyLink is working to get its network service cycles to match the 21- to 30-day cycles of its CenturyLink Cloud operations, and that includes developing a layer of open applications programming interfaces that exists above the network, VP-Network Strategy and Development James Feger told the near 200-strong crowd here today.
The layer of APIs, which would incorporate open source technology and be contributed back into open source communities, will allow developers to offer their apps or services regardless of the underlying infrastructure, he notes. Feger, who was actually filling in for CenturyLink Inc. (NYSE: CTL) Cloud CTO Jared Wray, admits there is substantial work to be done to get network service cycles to run that fast.
"My goal is to reach the point where the network is not important to the customer -- and I'm the network guy," he says. "Of course, the network will always be important, but we want to get to the point where we deliver the application or service and delight the customer, and they don't have to think about the network."
CenturyLink has been successful in integrating the multiple platforms of its many acquisitions, including local and global networks, the managed services business of Savvis, the cloud orchestration and software development of Tier 3, and the platform-as-a-service capabilities of AppFog, Feger says. That integration is what allows a "network guy" to deliver the "cloud guy's" presentation. (See CenturyLink Cloud Goes Hyper and CenturyLink Shows Cloud Is Still Critical.)
But he admits the service cycles on the network side are still measured in months, not days. By incorporating the Agile technology approaches of the CenturyLink Cloud operation and the use of a dev/ops model, he hopes to change that. Whereas operations is traditionally standalone (and generally avoided by many network architects), the dev/ops model eliminates the hand-off from development to operations, keeps the developers in the feedback loop, and incentivizes developers to iron out problems or complications rather than pass them downstream.
CenturyLink Cloud uses the Agile approach to constantly monitor and collect feedback in a service cycle that updates every 21 to 30 days, which has actually eliminated the need for traditional service roadmaps.
Feger did raise two concerns about moving to the cloud: First, he advised that the process must include automation, to enable self-service; and second, he reminded the audience that customer expectations regarding cloud have to be managed.
If service providers don't automate the processes around cloud, and instead throw people at the problem as they have done in the past, they will find the model doesn't scale, he notes. And by letting customers think the cloud can solve everything -- when it can't -- they set themselves up for failure.
— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading