Inside a CenturyLink data center. (Photo: CenturyLink)

Inside a CenturyLink data center. (Photo: CenturyLink)

CenturyLink Launches Utility-Style Managed Services for the Rest of Us

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CenturyLink has kicked off the roll-out of on-demand managed services customers can order through the same portal they use to deploy cloud infrastructure resources and consume and pay for them by the hour, like they do for cloud compute or storage.

The move brings managed services – something that has been reserved for enterprise-scale customers that deploy substantial colocation assets on a long-term basis – accessible to individual developers, startups and small and medium businesses.

The company made the announcement in conjunction with this week’s GigaOm Structure conference in San Francisco.

Unlike traditional managed services offerings, CenturyLink is not asking for a minimum commitment from a customer who wants to use the cloud-based version, Richard Seroter, director of product management at CenturyLink, said. Traditional managed services usually come with at least a 12-month commitment and cost thousands of dollars.

Managed services in the IT world are a form of outsourcing, where a customer pays a provider to manage specific layers of their infrastructure stack. It can be operating system management, database management or middleware management, to name just a few.

CenturyLink is starting by offering eight types of managed services in the cloud, but there are dozens more that will eventually follow, Seroter said.

CenturyLink’s first eight cloud managed services:

  • Windows operating system
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux operating system
  • Active Directory
  • Apache HTTP Server
  • Apache Tomcat
  • Microsoft Internet Information Services
  • Microsoft SQL Server
  • MySQL

A bread-and-butter business

CenturyLink gained its managed services capabilities almost entirely through its acquisition of Savvis in 2011. These offerings have become one of its bread-and-butter businesses.

The company lumps cloud and managed hosting revenue into one bucket, which contributed about 40 percent of revenue in the first quarter. CenturyLink does not break out the managed hosting revenue from this bucket, but a spokesman said cloud was responsible for a much smaller portion of the total.

On-demand experts, any time

One of its biggest competitors in the managed services space is Rackspace, which has turned hands-on management and customer service into a mantra. But, Seroter said, Rackspace’s managed services are still only available with a minimum commitment.

The strength of CenturyLink’s cloud-based offerings is that a developer can outsource just the management of an operating system, or just a MySQL database for any period of time, however short. They can request a service as a configuration option through CenturyLink’s cloud interface and have one of the company’s 1,200 or so engineers dedicated to managed services provide it within an hour, Seroter said.

Ultimately, the company wants to “give you what you like in the cloud, but have a team of experts behind it, tuning it, managing it, licensing it and so forth,” he said.

About the Author

San Francisco-based business and technology journalist. Editor in chief at Data Center Knowledge, covering the global data center industry.

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