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CenturyLink Transitioning to Full SDN/NFV Environment

As if to point the way for enterprises moving to an emerging and evolving -- and sometimes confusing -- new world of networking virtualization, global communications company CenturyLink Inc. this week issued an update outlining its progress in moving toward the network of tomorrow.

The provider is positioning itself as the vanguard of the transition to software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV), moving its infrastructure wholly to the new-age technologies. They emphasize software-based virtualization that provides network programmability, decoupling the traditional control and forwarding planes and often replacing proprietary devices with bare-metal, commodity hardware, among other tenets.

"The company is currently building an end-to-end network platform with SDN and NFV capabilities to deliver a self-service application marketplace and on-demand services, creating an enhanced customer experience currently offered by few providers," CenturyLink announced this week. In addition to its communications network, the company provides hosting, cloud and IT services such as network and data systems management, Big Data analytics and IT consulting.

The company said it's "aggressively working to transform its existing core network into an SDN- and NFV-based environment and will virtualize 40 percent of its global IP core network locations by end of 2015 with plans to have full global virtualization coverage in its IP core network and datacenters by 2018."

Aiming at the enterprise networking market, the company recently launched its Programmable Services Backbone (PSB) to provide new services to organizations via virtualized functions.

The communications provider said it has already implemented NFV in 36 network and datacenters in seven countries, planning to increase that to 44 locations by year's end. "CenturyLink also was one of the first providers to use NFV technology to virtualize security features such as firewalls and a content delivery network (CDN) to distribute video through its Prism TV service, providing quicker delivery of these services," the company said. "In the coming months, CenturyLink will begin deploying a range of virtualized data and voice infrastructure services, including virtualized Multi Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) routers and Customer Premises Equipment (CPE) to enable dynamic delivery of scalable services for customers."

The company said it started its network virtualization and automation efforts in 2013, teaming up with five vendors to develop an API-based open environment to promote interoperability and enhance application development.

"CenturyLink is taking its network assets and combining them with our expanded NFV platform and cloud services to create a customizable and dynamic applications marketplace infrastructure that will give businesses near real-time provisioning and more control over their service experience," said CTO Aamir Hussain. "The customer experience is a top priority for CenturyLink. Integrating virtualized services into our network and developing an interactive marketplace and portal for our customers allows us to be more responsive to market opportunities and meet changing customer demands. We are pleased that our efforts position CenturyLink as an industry leader in virtualization."

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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