CenturyLink's Departing VPs Could Signal Changing Cloud Market

Shortly after telecommunications giant CenturyLink announced it's considering the sale of its data center and colocation assets, the provider confirmed it's losing two top executives from its cloud business, effective Tuesday.

The news, first reported by Fortune, is sparking industry speculation that, like some of its competitors, the Monroe, La.-based provider may be shifting its focus from the cloud business. The departure of Jared Wray, senior vice president of platform, and Jonathan King, vice president of platform strategy and business development, were confirmed to CRN by a CenturyLink spokesperson Tuesday.

But according to CenturyLink, the simultaneous departures are coincidental and do not indicate that CenturyLink is moving away from the cloud, said Justin Lopinot, communications executive for CenturyLink.

[Related: Telecoms Consider Ditching Data Centers To Stay In The Cloud Race]

Sponsored post

"There are some misnomers out there about us changing our direction and those are not true," Lopinot said. "What we are doing with our strategic options for the data center and colocation business is completely separate from what we are doing with cloud -- cloud is still a huge focus."

However, competing with cloud market leaders such as Amazon, Google, and Microsoft is proving to be a challenge for many telecom providers, said Darryl Senese, vice president of carrier services at Atrion Networking, a Warwick, R.I.-based IT solution provider.

In October, telecommunications provider Windstream sold its data center assets to TierPoint for $575 million, and industry heavyweight Verizon was also rumored to be considering the sale of its cloud and data center business units, which include its Terremark assets.

"It just seems to me that not all, but many, carriers are considering letting companies that just do cloud and do it well have that business, while [telecom providers] refocus on where they want to be and what they've been known for," Senese said.

Atrion aligns with many large telecommunications providers, and is also a Microsoft partner.

"We see that Microsoft is really good at [cloud services]. Customers have used them for years and have a comfort level there, and I can see why clients would want to work with a cloud provider like [Microsoft]," he said.

The recent CenturyLink departures won't have an impact on the provider's channel strategy, Lopinot said.

"The way we've decided to move forward is to really flatten our organization so we can be more innovative in the future, which will benefit our partners and customers," he said.

According to Lopinot, CenturyLink has determined it should combine cloud functions with its core technology groups, in alignment with the provider's long-term strategy, to transform into a major player in the IP-enabled network services, cloud infrastructure and hosted IT solutions markets moving forward.

CenturyLink's executive vice president and chief technology officer, Aamir Hussein, who was hired in October 2014, will continue to lead the cloud business and oversee the integration of the former Tier 3 and Savvis cloud technology organizations, Lopinot said.

In addition, CenturyLink recently formed a technology advisory board to help guide its product innovation roadmap and strategic alliances. CenturyLink's developers, engineers and product management teams are actively developing new features to build on the CenturyLink Cloud platform, he said.

This isn't the first departure CenturyLink has had within its cloud business this year. In January, former senior vice president of cloud and technology Andrew Higginbotham left the company after 14 years at the helm.