centurylinkLike some other telecom service providers, CenturyLink has shifted away from the data center business. The company also has shifted their public cloud approach, adding additional capabilities for a multi-cloud approach, noted CenturyLink executives at financial conferences this week.

The CenturyLink cloud strategy is now focused largely on providing advanced connectivity between enterprises and cloud providers, said CenturyLink CTO Aamir Hussain and CenturyLink Executive Vice President of Operations Support and Controller David Cole. Based on their comments, it appears unlikely that we should expect any major changes in that strategy when the company merges with Level 3, an event targeted for completion later this year.

Highlighting CenturyLink’s investment in software-controlled networks, Hussain noted that a recently launched offering “allows our customers to orchestrate their workload within any cloud as long as they are on our network – we are allowing them to move workloads anywhere as long as they are using our network.”

CenturyLink is a network company, Hussain said. “We are going to be network-first.”

He added, though, that the company has connected its network to major cloud providers and sees the orchestration platform as an important tool for business customers. He also noted that some customers don’t like to use public cloud services but turn to CenturyLink for network connectivity, including for low-latency financial services, and those customers also could use CenturyLink’s orchestration offering.

The offering, dubbed CenturyLink Cloud Application Manager, has “gone over well” noted Cole, who said the offering gives CenturyLink the opportunity to take a “consultative role” toward enterprise customers.

CenturyLink Cloud Strategy
Hussain also highlighted products such as security that can be sold on a managed service basis to support business customers connecting to data centers and the cloud.

He noted, for example, that although CenturyLink sold its data centers earlier this year, it will find itself in the data center business again when it merges with Level 3.  He also noted, however, that Level 3’s Tier 1 data centers are mostly in Latin America and were built to meet customer demand. He added that “We built phenomenal capabilities [such as] cloud managed services security that can be provided over the top on a managed services basis to those customers.”

Although telecom providers such as CenturyLink aggressively pursued the data center and cloud business just a few years ago, companies such as Amazon and Google are tough competitors in that market and more and more telcos seem to have determined that a better cloud strategy is to focus on the network side as CenturyLink is doing.

Enterprise services such as Cloud Application Manager and managed security will become increasingly important to CenturyLink when the merger with Level 3 is completed and the merged company gets 76% of its revenue from enterprise and wholesale services.

Hussain made his comments at Cowen and Company Communications Infrastructure Summit yesterday, which was webcast from Boulder, Colorado.  Cole made his comments today at the Oppenheimer & Co. Technology, Internet, & Communications Conference, which was also webcast.

This post has been updated.

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