Public cloud platform claims to deliver enterprise-class scalability, security, etc.
Planning additional international expansions and product launches in Asia Pacific
A NEW public cloud platform made its Asian debut with the official launch of CenturyLink Cloud last month, a move which CenturyLink said was aimed at better serving the changing needs of businesses in the Asia Pacific region.
The platform – available in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, and now in this region through one of CenturyLink’s data centres in Singapore – delivers enterprise-class control, agility, scalability and security backed by a global network, the company claimed.
Its managing director for Asia Pacific Gery Messer (pic) said the CenturyLink Cloud node in Singapore further enhances its position as a “leading managed hybrid IT provider” for businesses with operations in the Asia Pacific region.
“We continue to invest in the high-growth Asia Pacific region to meet increasing customer demand.
“With a deep product portfolio across infrastructure, applications, services and geographies, CenturyLink optimises complete solutions for customers, while offering a single point of accountability,” he added.
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Analysis by Frost & Sullivan shows that enterprises across Asia Pacific spent almost US$6.6 billion on public cloud services in 2014, an increase of 38% from 2013.
The research and analyst firm predicts that cloud spending will exceed US$20 billion in 2018, driven by factors such as an increasing openness to outsource workloads to the cloud, greater collaboration between business and technology decision makers in the procurement of IT, and the availability of more mature cloud offerings in the market.
The extension of CenturyLink’s cloud offerings to the region is the latest step in an on-going strategy that saw the company transition beyond its legacy business as a telecommunications operator to an integrated IT solutions provider.
Since 2011, the Monroe, Louisiana-based company has embarked on a series of acquisitions, most notably cloud infrastructure and hosted IT solutions provider Savvis Inc for US$2.5 billion in 2011; Portland-based Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) provider AppFog; and Seattle-based Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) platform and advanced cloud management company Tier 3 in 2013.
In 2014, CenturyLink recorded US$18.1 billion in revenue globally, and claims to be the second largest colocation company, accounting for 20% of the world’s Internet traffic.
Mayank Kapoor, research manager at Frost & Sullivan, noted that CenturyLink has “established itself as a leading global managed data centre services provider and has been rapidly expanding its capabilities in the cloud computing space.”
“It has established a strong managed hybrid IT portfolio to carve out solutions that meet the unique needs of enterprises that are in different phases of their hybrid IT journey,” he added.
Offering a valuable proposition
CenturyLink Asia Pacific director of cloud and managed hosting Chris Levanes (pic) claimed that the launch of the first node in Singapore comes with customers already using its service.
“We are introducing our next-generation enterprise cloud to the region, and are building capacity to meet demand.
“Traditional inhibitors to businesses adopting public cloud offerings have been issues of outages and service level agreements.
“However CenturyLink’s strength lies in our ability to service customer needs regardless of size, thanks to our history as one of the longest serving cloud providers in the industry,” he declared.
Levanes also claimed that another differentiator is the pricing transparency of the company’s services, with charge-back capabilities, on-demand managed services and pay-by-the hour billing – all of which promise no ‘bill shock’ for customers.
“For many companies, when they transition from on-site to virtual machines and self-provisioning, they tend to get carried away, with no controls or governance with regards to their spend.
“With our pricing structure, customers will know exactly what they’re getting and at what price,” he said.
CenturyLink has also released a Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) calculator that helps enterprises get an idea of what they are paying for, here.
David Rosengrave, head of business development and product strategy for Asia Pacific, said that the persistence of shadow IT has brought a “gap in the market.”
Shadow IT refers to IT systems and solutions built and used inside organisations without explicit organisational approval.
“The challenge in resolving this has been finding a platform that works for all sides, from the developers to business line users,” said Rosengrave.
“A cloud platform has proven to resonate as … it offers strong developer support with controls that corporate governance officers are comfortable with, and the capability to integrate everything with existing systems.
“The value we offer is the level of automation we can afford customers in handling their IT assets, with one set of tools delivered via one portal for customers, along with a cloud marketplace where developers can create and deploy apps on our platform,” he added.
Anchoring its Asian cloud
During a press briefing hosted in Singapore, Messer said that CenturyLink also received a Brill Award for Asia Pacific data centres facilities management from the Uptime Institute, and will be the first company to be evaluated and awarded at the global portfolio level for Management & Operations certification by the organisation as well.
CenturyLink’s Asia Pacific operations date back to 1999, and it launched its first virtualised service in the region in 2007. It recently expanded its managed hosting services into China, and made its new private cloud service available in all 58 of its global data centres – seven of which sit in Asia.
Rosengrave (pic) said the company was open to all options for growth in the region, pointing to the joint venture it undertook with Digital Realty to acquire a facility in Hong Kong.
“We’ve also invested a lot into developing technology internally to keep ahead, especially in … automation,” he added.
Meanwhile, Messer said the company’s operations in the region were “shaping up nicely,” with a current staff strength of more than 300 people [corrected].
“We plan to explore additional international expansions and product launches in Asia Pacific in 2015,” he said.
Commenting on the rising issue of data sovereignty, Messer said that while other public cloud providers won’t tell you where your data resides at any one point, CenturyLink offers visibility, with all its facilities operating the same way when it comes to protocols and security levels.
“The topic of data sovereignty is a well-discussed one but it doesn’t apply to all data. That being said, we have the capability to service certain data requirements met out by clients, and are in fact looking at it more now,” he added.
Asked about growth trends for the company with regards to specific verticals, Messer said that CenturyLink was traditionally strong in retail and consumer brand segments that typically have seasonal demands on their data needs.
“Our second strongest vertical is financial institutions, with many clients on Wall Street leveraging our managed hosting services and quite a few banks in Asia as well, followed by players in the manufacturing and healthcare sectors.
“What is on an upward trend, is organisations that depend heavily on IT to keep them going, and that includes technology companies. Another growing vertical is transport and logistics,” he added.
In addition, Messer pointed out one cross-vertical commonality to the Asia Pacific client community, which is an expansion of operations from Singapore or other markets to the United States and other parts of the region – which cloud-based services can enable.
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