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CenturyLink Buys Tier 3 To Accelerate Cloud Roadmap

Tier 3 founder Jared Wray, named CenturyLink Cloud CTO, will help modernize CenturyLink's cloud services with more automation and self-service features.

CenturyLink, the telecommunications provider that previously acquired cloud service provider Savvis, has purchased cloud service provider Tier 3 and will immediately add its services to the CenturyLink Cloud. No purchase price was disclosed for the privately held company located in Bellevue, Wash.

Jared Wray, founder and CTO of Tier 3, will become CTO of CenturyLink Cloud, and lead what will be the CenturyLink Cloud Development Center in Seattle. The products, roadmap, and vision at that center will become CenturyLink's roadmap for the future, said Jeff Von Deylen, president of CenturyLink's Savvis cloud unit.

"Tier 3's innovative automation and self-service platform are game-changing for our global enterprise clients," said Von Deylen, president of CenturyLink's Savvis unit.

The moves represent an accelerated commitment by CenturyLink to compete for cloud computing customers. Savvis was a major player in colocation facilities and managed services moving into cloud computing. But it didn't start offering pay-as-you-go infrastructure service, like Amazon Web Services, until Oct. 10 and then only in beta form. Prior to that, it dealt even with its public cloud customers through monthly contracts, as a managed service provider would do. Savvis IaaS was dubbed SavvisDirect on Oct. 10; it was slated to become generally available later this year.

Savvis also offers Symphony Cloud Storage, which competes with Google, Microsoft, and Amazon S3 cloud storage services.

[Want to learn more about CenturyLink Savvis' global reach? See Savvis Expands Worldwide Data Center Footprint.]

Tier 3 apparently built up more native cloud automation and self-service features in its infrastructure under Wray than Savvis did, since they are becoming the standard bearers for the new CenturyLink Cloud.

"Our mission is to provide world-class managed services to global businesses on virtual, dedicated, and colocation infrastructures," Von Deylen said in the announcement. The references to dedicated and colocation services reflect older parts of Savvis' business. Dedicated hardware means servers that are used by one customer, not multitenant public cloud servers with their competitive economies of scale.

Wray has been an advocate of agile development, open source code, and DevOps, where operations has a say in how development proceeds, in running cloud infrastructure. He founded Tier 3 in 2006. CenturyLink Cloud will adopt those practices, according to Von Deylen. "This acquisition underscores our continued commitment to delivering the most complete portfolio of cloud services," he said.

Image credit: Angelo Storari of Ancona, Italy.
Image credit: Angelo Storari of Ancona, Italy.

Features of Tier 3 services include dynamic scaling of workloads, built-in disaster recovery, self-optimizing infrastructure, quality-of-service measures, performance level guarantees, and security. Gartner, in its Magic Quadrant on cloud suppliers, ranked Savvis slightly higher, as a challenger to the market's leaders. It ranked Tier 3 as a niche player, but it was the niche player that was closest to moving into the Challengers or Visionaries quadrant.

Of Tier 3 in particular, Gartner's summary said: "Tier 3's availability-oriented features are of particular note. They include automatic replication of VMs into a second data center, and storage that is integrated with rolling backups and disaster recovery options. Tier 3's largest VM size is 16X (16 virtual CPUs) with 128 GBs of memory."

Tier 3 provides Blueprints, which can be scripted by the customer to produce virtual servers with particular characteristics, including provisioning to multiple data centers upon being commissioned.

"Tier 3 will appeal to organizations that want a user-friendly and capable cloud IaaS offering that meets the needs of developers but also provides the governance and management efficiencies desired by IT operations," the summary concluded.

Wray had experience managing large Web infrastructures and consulting in financial services before founding Tier 3. He previously founded Dual, an interactive development firm, with Microsoft and Nintendo as clients.

The use of cloud technology is booming, often offering the only way to meet customers', employees' and partners' rapidly rising requirements. But IT pros are rightly nervous about a lack of visibility into the security of data in the cloud. In this Dark Reading report, Integrating Vulnerability Management Into The Application Development Process, we put the risk in context and offer recommendations for products and practices that can increase insight -- and enterprise security. (Free registration required.)

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User Rank: Strategist
11/21/2013 | 2:49:31 AM
Re: $200 million more
I guess its one time investment which is required here further you just capital to mainatain, but look at financial gain and power saved , if as CSP i am serving 04 different oragnizations than their power consumption, device management, manpower consumption gets drastically down making me as CSP earn capital and save for my cutomers. Sound like win-win situation.
Li Tan
Li Tan,
User Rank: Ninja
11/21/2013 | 12:29:43 AM
Re: $200 million more
That's exactly the point - the cloud service is cheap for end user but to run a cloud business, you need heavy initial investment. Cloud computing is a nascent area with high added-value. It's hard to find really good talent and qualified resource to run the business as a cloud service provider. I do wish CenturyLink really get what they paid for.:-)
User Rank: Strategist
11/20/2013 | 5:37:46 PM
$200 million more
Six-year old Tier 3, with 60 employees, cost CenturyLink $200 million, according to Bloomberg (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-11-19/centurylink-said-to-buy-cloud-provider-tier-3-for-200-million.html) That's after it paid $2.5 billion for Savvis in 2011. Getting into the cloud services market is not cheap.
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