CenturyLink Lands on Cyan's Blue Planet

CenturyLink announced Thursday it will use Cyan's Blue Planet NFV Orchestrator as orchestration for its new Programmable Services Backbone, the SDN-based network over which the network operator will deliver new business services, including virtualized functions. (See CenturyLink Chooses Cyan for NFV Orchestration.)

It's a major win for Cyan Inc. , landing the third-largest US service provider and one that is being aggressive in bringing SDN and NFV to the fore in converging its network and cloud platforms and organizations. According to Cyan, Blue Planet NFV Orchestrator will be used to create a layer of abstraction that allows CenturyLink Inc. (NYSE: CTL) to more quickly roll out new services to both enterprises and SMBs combining virtualized and legacy network elements from multiple vendors.

"This changes the cost structure for doing that, which will allow CenturyLink to bring new services to small-to-midsized businesses that, in the past, were limited to larger enterprises," says Cyan CMO Joe Cumello.

In announcing the PSB and a new converged organization, CenturyLink has been pushing hard to unify the CenturyLink Cloud unit with its network operation to make it more flexible, more virtualized and more able to meet changing customer demands quickly. Providing a key piece to that puzzle such as orchestration is a significant step for Cyan. (See New CenturyLink CTO in Major Overhaul.)

"We're very proud of the fact that we competed successfully for this business against much larger more established competitors," says Mike Hatfield, president and co-founder of Cyan. That competition likely included players such as Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC).

Using Cyan's Blue Planet NFV Orchestrator, CenturyLink will be able to do service chaining, tying together virtualized functions and even pieces of legacy hardware, in a dynamic fashion to build new services. Providing that kind of capability is what Cyan has been aiming for with Blue Planet, working with big players such as Cisco and Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) to integrate their offerings and building out one of the industry's first NFV ecosystems, Blue Orbit, as well. (See Cisco, Juniper Land on Cyan's Blue Planet.)

The ability to use a template-based approach to creating new services from a mix of virtualized elements will let CenturyLink not only tie together multi-vendor virtualized functions but also its internal resources such as data centers, networks and managed services, Cumello says.

Read more about NFV strategies and the challenges of orchestration on the NFV channel here on Light Reading.

"CenturyLink has taken a leadership position in driving the changes required to build a more service-centric network that derives maximum value from network assets while addressing evolving customer requirements," CenturyLink CTO Aamir Hussain said in the press release announcing the deal. "The Programmable Services Backbone delivers an open, software-enabled architecture based on Cyan's NFV orchestration technology that will allow us to rapidly deploy new services to enterprise and SMB customers across our footprint."

The two companies have been working together for some time, participating in a proof of concept for the ETSI NFV Industry Specifications Group that tackled Distributed NFV. Cyan was providing the integration for that effort, which created virtual firewalls. CenturyLink also had virtualized its content delivery network as part of its early exploration of NFV and SDN. (See Inside CenturyLink's NFV/SDN Strategy.)

Stay tuned for further details on this deal, coming from CenturyLink later today.

— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading

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