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CenturyLink Inks Deal With Arrow In Bid To Add More Systems Integrators

CenturyLink Cloud has agreed to join Arrow Electronics' cloud service portfolio to help expand its partner base beyond telecom and networking services firms.

CenturyLink's cloud unit has inked a deal with value-added distribution powerhouse Arrow Electronics in a bid to add more enterprise systems integrators to its partner base.

The deal is aimed at allowing the $18 billion telecom giant to broaden its reach to legacy IT VARs that are guiding customers in massive migrations to the cloud, said Blake Wetzel, vice president of CenturyLink's channel alliance.

The new CenturyLink offerings available to Arrow partners include IT-as-a-Service solutions, pay-per-use pricing and cloud-based managed services aimed at facilitating traditional IT partners' shift to a services model. Wetzel said the offering can be scaled minutes after it's deployed.

[Related: CenturyLink Outlines Plans For New Services, New Platform Based On SDN, NFV]

CenturyLink already has brought on board preliminary, beta-type Arrow channel partners to test the CenturyLink offering, Wetzel said.

The CenturyLink offering can help VARs, MSPs and ISVs build public, private and hybrid cloud solutions for their business, government or education customers, Dee Dee Lear, Arrow's vice president of cloud and business development, told CRN.

Since CenturyLink owns its own data centers, networks and hundreds of thousands of miles of fiber, Lear said the vendor can serve as a one-stop shop for an integrated solution, covering everything from network connectivity to cloud deployment.

The holistic platform is built for enterprises and chief information officers who wish to move workloads but don't want to do the integration themselves, Wetzel said.

CenturyLink is also one of very few cloud providers with global reach, she said.

She said Arrow would be interested in expanding its relationship beyond the cloud offerings with CenturyLink if the vendor makes new investments or acquisitions.

ArrowSphere's automation capabilities, which include the provisioning and billing of cloud services, will differentiate Arrow's offering from the other distributors, Lear said. ArrowSphere also allows solution providers to integrate their own cloud services with those from vendors.

Arrow will make a complete road map available to channel partners to help their customers' transition to the cloud, she said.

ArrowSphere already has prebuilt interfaces and, while CenturyLink offers tremendous automation and API (application program interface) capabilities, channel partners should be able to quote and provision from a single pane of glass, Lear said.

Wetzel and Lear declined to discuss margins, but said virtually all of the revenue would be recurring, stemming from a usage-based model. Solution providers will also be able to fully own the customer relationships, Lear said, by white-labeling CenturyLink's cloud products.

Opportunities abound for solution providers to wrap products and services around CenturyLink's bundle, Lear said.

The first thing partners can add on is a front-end assessment of what workloads are right to go to the cloud and which are better suited to stay on premises.
"A customer doesn't necessarily click and go to the cloud," Lear said.

Once migration decisions are made, Lear said solution providers can get involved with everything from implementing and managing the environment to offering help-desk services to conducting ongoing assessments to renegotiating contracts as they expire.

This is CenturyLink's third distribution deal, Wetzel told CRN, complementing established relationships with Ingram Micro and Avnet.

CenturyLink has never before worked with Avnet's enterprise computing division, according to Lear.

The CEO for an Arrow IBM enterprise partner, who did not want to be identified, said he already has a tight, long-standing partnership with IBM and IBM SoftLayer and would be hard-pressed to disrupt that relationship by selling CenturyLink Cloud.

PUBLISHED JAN. 20, 2015

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