Just five years ago, CenturyLink was born through a merger as a large, but for the most part typical, regional telecommunications provider.
When company execs looked to the future of the recently rebranded business, they saw declining land-line revenues and limited potential. They "determined that a collective of regional telecom assets wasn't going to be a growth business over the coming years," said Dave Shacochis, CenturyLink's VP of cloud platform.
At that point, CenturyLink embarked on an ambitious transformation through an aggressive cloud strategy.
A few acquisitions later, the Monroe, La.-based telecom was classified a 'Visionary' on Gartner's IaaS Magic Quadrant, a major player in the public-cloud space and a leading developer of cutting-edge Platform-as-a-Service technologies.
This week, CenturyLink realized another milestone in its cloud journey -- the company on Monday opened the doors to an expansive and state-of-the-art new research facility in Seattle.
The 30,000-square-foot Cloud Development Center is already home to a few hundred engineers, Shacochis said, and CenturyLink is looking to continue hiring staff.
The company envisions the new facility in the suburb of Bellevue as a hub of creativity, collaboration and innovation where top-notch software developers will create the next generation of cloud technologies to power CenturyLink's burgeoning global network of data centers.
"We're getting ready to launch a PaaS offering and to launch a bare-metal cloud. We're doing a whole lot to grow our software ecosystem, working with different vendors and tech companies to integrate their technology through CenturyLink Cloud either through APIs or orchestration tools that we call our Blueprint Engine," Shacochis told CRN.
CenturyLink launched its public cloud about a year ago on the heels of some high-profile acquisitions.
"The current model is all around automation, abstraction, elasticity and user self-service. In order to continue to grow, we started looking at companies that had automation capabilities that could start driving workloads into data centers more efficiently," Shacochis told CRN.
The company bought Qwest in 2010, an acquisition that made CenturyLink the third largest telecom in the country, and also provided an IT backbone for a future cloud build-out, Shacochis said.
CenturyLink bought Savvis in July 2011, for $2.5 billion plus debt and took control of a number of new data centers and hosting infrastructure.
The acquisition of AppFog in June 2013 gave CenturyLink a PaaS offering popular with developers for automating application deployments onto public clouds.
Finally, with the acquisition of Tier 3 in November 2013, CenturyLink took control of the cloud hosting infrastructure it needed to offer a major public cloud and propel itself onto Gartner's Magic Quadrant.
CenturyLink now runs 12 public cloud nodes around the world, offers a private cloud hosted in 57 data centers and is a major contributor to the Docker and Cloud Foundry projects. With that world-class infrastructure in place, the company is now turning its sights to software innovation.
"The Development Center represents a massive investment in growing and expanding that team so we can automate everything across the CenturyLink enterprise," Shacochis said.
The facility will focus on developing elastic, automated platforms for voice services, computing, data storage and other services CenturyLink offers.
While CenturyLink is headquartered in the South, Seattle is the home of its cloud business and the company has close ties to the city. After all, the Seattle Seahawks play in CenturyLink Field.
"There's becoming a huge focus of talent here in the Pacific Northwest," Shacochis told CRN.
"[Seattle] is a magnet for folks working in that space, automating things in data centers and having them run in web-scale," he said.
PUBLISHED OCT. 17, 2014