CenturyLink Scoops Up More SDN Assets As Carrier Continues Down Virtualization Path

Telecommunications provider CenturyLink has snapped up more network automation technology, and partners are noticing the carrier’s trend towards software-defined networking.

CenturyLink, based in Monroe, La., on Wednesday said it will acquire specific assets from the company formally known as Active Broadband Networks, a Framingham, Mass.-based software-based broadband networking provider.

The technology that CenturyLink will be acquiring from Active Broadband Networks -- an SDN and NFV platform -- is aimed at letting partners and end customers more easily move services into the cloud and inject automation into their network.

[Related: CenturyLink Acts As MSP For SD-WAN With New Bundled Offering]

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This acquisition marks the third move toward network automation for the carrier. Earlier this month, CenturyLink acquired San Francisco-based ElasticBox for hybrid IT and multi-cloud management. Also in June, the carrier rolled out a new SD-WAN service that bundles network management and connectivity options together for business customers.

Intelisys, a Petaluma, Calif.-based master agent that partners with CenturyLink said that the carrier is one of its largest and most successful partners. Just as CenturyLink is bullish about virtualization, so is Intelisys, according to Andrew Pryfogle, senior vice president of cloud transformation for Intelisys.

"[CenturyLink] is making a really big push into intelligent networks, and we're excited about their continued strategic investments in this area," Pryfogle said. "As with their other services, we expect them to win big with our partners."

The introduction of the platform will let CenturyLink virtualize core network functions and move more functions to the cloud. Specifically, CenturyLink plans on strengthening its current SDN and NFV development capabilities as it moves IP traffic from its current hardware-based broadband network gateways to new virtual gateways, according to Bill Corbin, CenturyLink's senior vice president of strategic partnerships and channel operations.

A more software-defined network will let CenturyLink deploy services more quickly through its partners, Corbin said.

"Anything we do to improve CenturyLink's services benefits our channel partners as it enhances the customer experience for their end users," he said. "Our partners will be able to consume and engage their customers in our network services in a similar way customers consume any cloud service, via robust APIs and portals."

Intelisys is also pushing SDN and SD-WAN technologies as hybrid IT environments are becoming the rule among business customers, Pryfogle said.

"We're already seeing dramatic uptick in deal flow with intelligent networks," Pryfogle said. "The move to cloud continues to disrupt the network world, and we welcome that."

CenturyLink first launched its network virtualization strategy in October 2015. The carrier is in the midst of creating a network platform with SDN and NFV capabilities to deliver a self-service application with on-demand services, according to CenturyLink's Corbin.

"We are still on track with plans to develop full global virtualization coverage in our IP core network and data centers, and anticipate completing this development by 2018," he said.