CenturyLink's Cloud Application Manager is the latest entry in the competition to help enterprises efficiently manage workloads in a hybrid cloud environment. But the service, announced this week, is also a harbinger of services to come on the company's digitally transformed services platform, which spans the workload, data center infrastructure and networking layers, a senior executive tells Light Reading.
CenturyLink is definitely not trying to compete at the cloud infrastructure layer with the likes of Amazon and Microsoft, says Dave Shacochis, vice president of Cloud Ecosystem. Because its platform spans that layer, however, CenturyLink is developing a broad set of "tools-oriented, automated user experience services at the workload management layer," he says. And Cloud Application Manager is just one of those.
"There are a number of other services that we will be tying into this broader platform strategy -- that do platform-style, automated-style, consumption-oriented, rich user experience services," Shacochis says. "We have our own modest IaaS cloud that we think has its own differentiators, but we largely use it to build our own services. We also have some security tools coming out, an automated network exchange set of tools coming out, you'll see a series of services that really round out the rest of this platform schedule."
With Cloud Application Manager, the intent is to give enterprises the ability to model applications, to manage their deployment in the cloud and then to manage them over time, as things change and get updated, without requiring them to acquire major new internal skills or have an IT team devoted to this process, Shacochis says. Enterprises can use the product themselves or outsource it further to use CenturyLink's expert team "as their virtual cloud management team," he says.
The Cloud Application Manager straddles the line between workloads and infrastructure. It ties together re-architected, web-services versions of management tools that date back to the Savvis-managed IT services days, with the multi-cloud application lifecycle modeling component that CenturyLink acquired with its Elastic Box purchase last summer. The software-development teams from Century Link and Elastic Box have been working together to create this capability to orchestrate infrastructure, applications and services across multiple clouds, he adds.
Add to those two things the partnerships that CenturyLink has with major cloud infrastructure providers, including Amazon and Microsoft, and Cloud Application Manager becomes a tool suite that enables cloud provisioning, optimization, bill consolidation, financial analysis and more to enable efficient hybrid cloud usage that matches workloads to the right clouds, Shacochis says.
"You just use our tool set and manage it yourself, or you can use our paid professionals to manage it for you and be your virtual cloud team," he comments.
CenturyLink will continue to stress the importance of its internal digital services transformation in enabling the company to more effectively serve its enterprise customers, Shacochis adds.
"We have been a company that has gone through our own digital transformation," he says. "We operate at the network, infrastructure and services level, but that was true ten years ago, 15 years ago. Now we can deliver services in those zones in more rich, on-demand, pay-as-you-go, programmable, automated type of user experiences. That is our own digital transformation. We feel like we've blazed a path that works for us. The nice thing about it is because we are a service provider, [customers] can use the same path for [their] digital transformation."
— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading
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