How Lumen Technologies’ Network Is A Bridge To Strategic Services, SASE, Security

“The attach is there. People aren’t coming to us and saying: ‘I want to buy security from Lumen, but they are already embedded in … [Lumen] has done a good job of wrapping services around traditionally network-driven branding, said one Lumen partner who has seen an 80 percent uptick in its Lumen strategic networking services portfolio this year alone.


Sara Seegers

Lumen Technologies, formerly CenturyLink, takes pride in being a legacy network provider. But the company is turning its attention even more to the adjacent technology conversations that can be enabled by a strong network.

“If you look at AI, cloud, security, application performance and edge strategies, well, network is sort of core to that,” Sara Seegers, national vice president, indirect partner channel for Lumen, told CRN.

Partners are increasingly recognizing those adjacencies, she added.

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“Partners only have so much time and the more things they bring to the conversation that makes them highly credible and relevant, it’s good for the client and the partner, and we can have a larger conversation with our customers on how they can grow and we can enable them,” she said.

These conversations with the network at the center, Seegers said, are creating a “next-gen partner.”

[Related: Lumen Technologies Bets Big On NaaS To Turn Around Struggling Enterprise, Business Revenues]

“These partners are getting more comfortable asking questions about managed services and security and maybe that wasn’t always natural for every partner,” she said.

Lumen last summer retooled its business segment to focus on growth products. The company broke it down to three categories: The “Grow” segment, which includes strategic services such as SASE, security, cloud, and UC collaboration services. The “Nurture” category includes VPN Data Networks and Ethernet services, and the “Harvest” segment houses the carrier’s legacy services, including voice.

Longtime Lumen partner Bridgepointe Technologies, a solution provider specializing in unified communications, networking, cybersecurity and managed services, is seeing significant growth in its Lumen business thanks to the carrier’s strategic networking solutions, said Scott Kinka, chief strategy officer for Bridgepointe.

Offerings like secure access service edge (SASE) are a “gateway drug” to more advanced solutions for customers, Kinka said.

“We would have Lumen WAN conversations and then it became lumen SD-WAN conversations. Then, when you stop talking about: ‘How many locations do you have? and start talking about: ‘How many people do you have?’ when you’re having network conversations, SASE is the bridge. And once you do that, now you’re into security,” he said.

The portion of Irvine, Calif.-based Bridgepointe’s portfolio that includes its strategic Lumen services, such as SASE, security, managed IT, and edge has seen an 80 percent increase this year alone.

“The attach is there. People aren’t coming to us and saying: ‘I want to buy security from Lumen,’ but they are already embedded in and are a well-known provider and name,” he said. “[Lumen] has done a good job of wrapping services around traditionally network-driven branding.”

Seegers and her team have been prioritizing the company’s growth agenda through partners, she said.

“Adding to that growth agenda is getting a little uncomfortable to get incredibly comfortable, so we’re investing in evangelists to go educate on what this means. Where telco and tech intersect and the power of what that brings,” she said.

Lumen’s focus on strategic, network-adjacent services is also attracting new partners to the company, Seegers said.

“Now we’re talking about robotic engineering and AI and smart cities. That wasn’t necessarily a population that was thinking of Lumen first,” she said. “Now, these [partners and customers] are saying: ‘How can we go do this together?’ And that’s the fun part.”

Seegers said that Lumen is investing in additional leadership to support the channel and partner success. Her team is working in partnership with solution providers on how to grow the business and what to be taking into the marketplace, she added.

“I’m excited to internally navigate this with our ecosystem and I think that’s where our partners are seeing the change with Lumen as well right now.”