One thing that CenturyLink got with its purchase of Level 3 Communications in November 2017 was a global fiber backbone. And CenturyLink is capitalizing on that asset. Last month the company expanded its SD-WAN service, making it available in more than 30 countries. And today, the company launched Cloud Connect Dynamic Connections, which gives enterprises the ability to immediately connect to public clouds.
Cloud Connect had been around at Level 3 for a few years. But the new Cloud Connect Dynamic Connections enables real-time creation and deletion of private Ethernet connections to Amazon Web Services (AWS). And the company is forging relationships with more public cloud providers.
“Basically we’re rolling out a new capability with Cloud Connect to provision Ethernet circuits on the fly from enterprises to public cloud resources,” said Paul Savill, senior vice president of core network and technology solutions at CenturyLink. “The key thing that makes this a big deal is the sheer scale: CenturyLink’s existing switched Ethernet fabric that’s already global in nature. Out-the-gate we can connect thousands of enterprise locations on demand.”
Savill said customers can log into a portal, pull up their credentials, and view a global map that shows them the locations of cloud service providers they can reach. Then can turn up circuits to cloud service providers from 5 Mb/s to 3 Gb/s. In the past that provisioning could take up to 60 days. But now with CenturyLink’s SDN technology, the circuits can be turned up within a couple of minutes.
The company has a significant network presence across North America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific. Its fiber footprint is extendable to 2,200 data centers around the world and over 100,000 on-net enterprise buildings.
It seems like every week a vendor or service provider is announcing that it can connect businesses to public clouds. But Savill said CenturyLink’s service is differentiated because it’s turning up dedicated high-performance network connections to the cloud in a couple of minutes.
“Somebody could say, ‘Hey, I can connect you to cloud locations with my SD-WAN,’” he said. “But it’s not done in minutes.”
He also explained that this is a Layer 2 service, meaning it is inherently secure. It doesn’t ride over the public internet. And individual circuits get provisioned on the fastest path possible via SDN.
“It’s also provisioned over CenturyLink’s owned and operated global fiber as opposed to a leased backbone,” said Savill. “This service is completely owned and managed all the way down to the fiber by CenturyLink. We don’t know anybody who has anything comparable to this.”
The company is publishing an open API to the network so that more sophisticated customers can code to that API to issue commands to provision capacity based on their own policies.
The service is initially priced by the hour based on locations and bandwidth size. The effective hourly price decreases automatically over time. If a connection is provisioned for a few hours, the price is higher. But if a customer keeps that service running for months, the rate automatically goes down to a monthly charge.