CenturyLink evolves its bare metal compute services

CenturyLink already sells bare metal compute services to enterprises, but it’s evolving the technology.

David Shacochis, CenturyLink’s vice president of enterprise technology, said the company has been in the managed IT services market for a couple of decades, and his group oversees the “increasingly important aspect of compute resources.” He said the company can deliver a large majority of computing services “anywhere our network can reach.”

The company is also upgrading its bare metal offering as part of the CenturyLink Cloud.

Bare metal servers, also known as white box servers or common-off-the-shelf servers, provide compute resources with no virtualization layer or operating system on top. Users can take the server hardware and put whatever operating system they want on top.

For example, companies such as Packet, which was bought by Equinix earlier this year, provide the orchestration and management software to automate bare metal servers.

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“CenturyLink does have a bare metal service offering today,” said Shacochis in an interview as part of FierceWireless’ Telecom Blitz week. “We’re in the process of working toward a release later this year. It’s more deeply integrated with the CenturyLink Dynamic Connections Network, that is our software-defined networking layer that runs across our global backbone. It’s a bare metal service that doesn’t run in an isolated pool of capacity on its own set of VLANs - as it is today. But it’s going to be something that inherits and gets all of its routing tables and IP allocations in a direct network interface with anywhere that the CenturyLink Dynamic Connections Network can reach across our fiber backbone.”

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Bare metal is just one more option for enterprises looking to satisfy their compute needs. Other options include managed cloud services from telcos or from big public clouds such as AWS, Google, and Microsoft. Enterprises also use their own in-house private clouds.

“There are myriad ways of getting computing resources put different places all around the world,” said Shacochis. Those include the do-it-yourself model, systems integrators, public clouds and hosters such as Equinix. 

He said bare-metal-as-a-service can be transposed to a wide variety of use cases. “We can offer it up to customers who put their own software stack on top of it. It’s a very transposable layer to think about laying on your network.”

CenturyLink uses bare metal, too

Not only is CenturyLink working on an improved bare-metal-as-a-service, but the company also sees it as an opportunity for its own network innovation. “We need clusters of compute throughout our network,” said Shacochis. “There’s a wide range of things where we need general purpose compute as part of operating a network. So having that be a service that we offer up to our customers as well as treating our own in-house product teams as a service is vital to what a service like that means to our long-term strategy.”