CenturyLink Gets Serious About Security, Acquires Security Services Firm netAura

Telecommunications heavyweight CenturyLink, which has been training its sights on strategic IT services, scooped up security firm netAura LLC. on Wednesday to bolster its managed security services portfolio.

As networking and connectivity merge with IT trends like security, big data, and the Internet of Things, carriers are expanding their portfolios to include more value-added services. The acquisition of netAura will strengthen CenturyLink's managed security services suite that the carrier introduced last month, CenturyLink said.

CenturyLink's Managed Security Services portfolio includes risk and security log monitoring, as well as incident management and response services. NetAura's managed security engineering, developing and consulting strengths will help CenturyLink target more business and government customers, the carrier said in a statement.

[Related: CenturyLink CEO: Systems Integrators, VARs Key To Winning Large Business Services Deals]

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CenturyLink’s new managed security portfolio isn’t being sold through the channel yet, and the carrier has not established a launch date for partners.

The carrier has also not disclosed the terms of the netAura deal.

Premier Elite CenturyLink Partner PlanetOne Communications, a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based provider of cloud-based services and connectivity solutions, said the acquisition will be beneficial for its own partners.

"This will give our partners around the country a tremendous opportunity to capture more of their clients' revenue with leading-edge IT and security services," PlanetOne founder and CEO said Ted Schuman said in an email to CRN.

Schuman believes the industry needs more legacy network providers to embrace strategic services.

"We’re impressed with the shift from CenturyLink to security and managed IT services," he said. "This move will resonate throughout the industry – especially with CenturyLink’s peers as convergence continues at an unprecedented pace."

Monroe, La.-based CenturyLink is trying to encourage its indirect community to talk about business outcomes, instead of products, with their end customers. Strategic services will help partners become more relevant to their business customers, Blake Wetzel, vice president of CenturyLink's Channel Alliance, told CRN.

Since carriers already have the network infrastructure in place; adding network-focused security services makes sense, said John Pironti, president of Rowley, Mass.-based IP Architects LLC, a risk management and security consulting firm.

"For certain kinds of attacks, like denial of service, you're going to contact your carrier anyway, so it doesn't hurt for the carrier to be able to help because they can effect change in the network," Pironti said.

For partners, security is a logical value-add on top of the network, he said.

"Once you have the fear factor working in your favor, it's easier to sell at a better margin," he said. "Shopping around for a connection is easy, but customers are more interested in the talent and services available at the security level."