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Scope

In this SPIE, Stratecast looks at the shift in the cloud winds, and how most cloud services today are at risk of falling short of rising expectations. We examine the CenturyLink cloud strategy, particularly the underlying technology—the CenturyLink platform—in an effort to understand how CenturyLink is positioning itself for the next generation of cloud users

Introduction

There’s a change in the prevailing winds in the cloud market. What was important to enterprise IT leaders at the dawn of the cloud era is giving way to expanded needs and heightened expectations.
Stratecast research shows that cloud adoption soared in 2014, with more than % of US-based businesses now using public cloud.2 To be sure, many users continue to be attracted by the same tactical benefits as in the past: low-cost access to scalable, on-demand infrastructure resources. Nonetheless, the research reveals an increasing percentage of IT leaders are turning to the cloud as part of a broader effort to support strategic business goals. The new IT approach focuses on business outcomes (for example, agility and market responsiveness), with enterprises matching workloads with the most appropriate deployment option and delivery model. To support this new, hybrid IT environment, the cloud service of the future needs to deliver a high degree of functionality, flexibility, interoperability, visibility, and control.
Are providers of cloud infrastructure services prepared for the shift? Cloud service providers of all sizes continue to enhance their basic infrastructure services with greater functionality and value-added services—and yet, it is not clear that their efforts are successfully addressing the needs of enterprises that are still trying to determine how to best leverage the new model.
The result has been market volatility, as many cloud service providers have spent the past few years launching and re-launching their cloud services in the search for a winning strategy. For example, in just the last three years:
- IBM shuttered its homegrown SmartCloud Enterprise platform before centering its cloud strategy on the SoftLayer acquisition.
- Microsoft, which introduced Azure as a Platform as a Service (PaaS) offer, repackaged the product as a public cloud service.
- Verizon ran two legacy cloud platforms (its own and one acquired through hosting leader Terremark), before superseding them with a new Verizon Cloud platform, which the company introduced in 2013, reworked, and re-introduced in 2014.
- AT&T introduced homegrown and partner-based cloud platforms, including Synaptic Cloud Compute and Cloud Architect, before shifting its focus in favor of becoming the network partner to other cloud service providers.
- Dell introduced, and then dropped, its public cloud offer, to pursue a partnership strategy.
Of course, change is to be expected in a rapidly shifting market, and each of these service providers is to be commended for continued efforts to get it right. Nonetheless, Stratecast believes that the dizzying swings in direction reflect industry-wide uncertainty among providers about how the cloud market will evolve. And so, providers are chasing, rather than anticipating, enterprise needs—and thus, are doomed to fall short.
However, one service provider has quietly built a cloud infrastructure service that appears to meet not only the criteria that enterprises are calling for today, but also those that we anticipate to become drivers in the future. Like many other providers, CenturyLink has built its cloud strategy around strategic acquisitions. The difference is how CenturyLink is leveraging, positioning, and building on its acquired assets to create a versatile and enterprise-centric cloud portfolio, backed by one of the most highly functional and comprehensive technology platforms in the industry.
In this SPIE, Stratecast looks at the shift in the cloud winds, and how most cloud services today are at risk of falling short of rising expectations. We examine the CenturyLink cloud strategy, particularly the underlying technology—the CenturyLink platform—in an effort to understand how CenturyLink is positioning itself for the next generation of cloud users.

A New Cloud Dynamic

In the early days of cloud—say, 3 or 4 years ago—the new business model was hailed as a way for resource-strapped IT departments to keep pace with the rush of technology advances demanded by the business. On-demand access to hosted compute and storage capacity provided a budget-friendly, speedy alternative to procuring, installing, and provisioning on-premises infrastructure to support new and expanded workloads.
While such tactical benefits are still important to users, IT leaders are realizing that their responsibility to the business extends well beyond finding a cheap place to host the next application. If CIOs are to lead their businesses into a technology-enabled future, they need to broaden their purview from components, locations, and point solutions to delivery of cohesive, integrated, end-to-end services.
As the role of IT evolves, so do cloud expectations. In a 2011 Frost & Sullivan survey, % of US-based IT decision-makers cited “defer server purchases” among their top-three reasons to move to the cloud, followed by “defer/avoid data center expansion” ( %) and “achieve high Return on Investment” ( %). In 2014, the top drivers included “achieve IT flexibility and agility” (cited by %); “deliver services and applications faster” ( %); and better support business needs ( %).

Table Of Contents

How CenturyLink is Setting the Standard for the Next Generation of Cloud Services
Table of Contents

Introduction
A New Cloud Dynamic
CenturyLink Cloud: A New Cloud for the New IT
Stratecast - The Last Word
About Stratecast
About Frost and Sullivan

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