Lumen sets the stage for private cloud, multi-tenant services at the edge in Q1

After rolling out bare metal services on its edge compute nodes, Lumen is teeing up private cloud and multi-tenant solutions for launch in Q1.

In an interview with FierceTelecom, Lumen's Shaun Andrews, executive vice president and chief marketing officer, said the multi-tenant application and private cloud offering we're the next steps for Lumen's edge compute portfolio.

Due to its vast fiber network, Lumen can reach 98% of the enterprises in the U.S., Europe and some Latin American countries with a low latency of 5 milliseconds one way with its edge compute nodes.

RELATED: Lumen rolls out bare metal-as-a-service on its edge compute nodes

Lumen Technologies, formerly CenturyLink, first announced its edge compute strategy last year, but it's closing out 2020 with a bang after taking the wraps off of its bare-metal-as-a service offering on its cloud edge nodes earlier this month.

"We'll have that (multi-tenant) out in Q1 and people will be buying and selling that," Andrews said. "That'll be kind of a rinse, lather and repeat productized widget you can pull off the shelf. I'm really excited to get the bare metal-as-a-service out, which is awfully bespoke, and private cloud will be slightly more repeatable."

Andrews said Lumen has learned over the years to target companies that are more sophisticated when it comes to new product launches before it moves towards more finished products.

"So we started with bare metal for the most savvy use case where they're going to bring their own operating system," he said. "In Q1, you'll see a private cloud offering for a slightly less savvy customer."

"Right behind that, you'll see a multi-tenant application were now we're really kind of bringing that finished product and experience down market. So I think our plan suited what we're good at and what's natural to us."

Like AT&T, Verizon and Telefonica, Lumen has cloud partnerships in place with the likes of Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud and Amazon Web Services, but Andrews said Lumen's edge strategy is farther along, and different, from its competitors.

"We're not looking to just resell that (cloud partnership) as our value," Andrews said. "We're looking to help you with your applications, whether they're your own homegrown application on bare metal, private cloud, or multi-tenant. We're really looking to go beyond just offering a core cloud partner closer to you.

"We're offering you full orchestration north and south and east to west. So for the east and west, yeah, we need to have those partners, and be somewhat partner agnostic, east and west across Google, Azure, IMB or Oracle. But we want to offer you orchestration from the application through the VM (virtual machine, through that cloud destination, and down into the network."

Andrews said Lumen has partnered with VMware and plans to have the vendor's Kubernetes-based Tanzu platform interoperable with its edge compute nodes. Lumen is also looking for additional Kubernetes-based vendors to partner with.

"I think tying the network to the cloud, to VMware and the application is what differentiates us," he said. "I believe we're further ahead of our competition."

With VMware, customers can plug their VMs directly into Lumen to drive them over multi-cloud infrastructures. Andrews said Lumen was also prepping for the eventual move from VMs to containers.

"On top of that, we've partnered with Morpheus for a manager of managers experience so you can do all of those north/south and east/west through Morpheus," Andrews said. "The other advantage we have is the progress we made in CAM (cloud application manager). So we already have a history of tying dynamic connectivity to cloud venues, and that capability will be under that Morpheus, manager of manager umbrella.

"Imagine that orchestration now being able to be over VMware and drive that into the Lumen CAM capability to manage your instances across multi-cloud environments."

Andrews said that as Lumen orchestrates those instances, it would be able to spin up the edge nodes to the cloud destinations or data centers as the applications are moved around.

"As you move instances, the pipes grow and shrink and shut down as your applications move around," he said.  We can do that and we've done that on Ethernet for quite a while."

Currently, Lumen has six edge nodes up and running across the U.S. but Andrews said that number would triple over the next 45 days.

"So that kind of gives you a feel for the pace that we're on," Andrews said.

Previously, Lumen said it was targeting more than 100 edge compute nodes across the U.S., and 150 around the globe.

"We now realize we don't even need the full 150 to reach the coverage," Andrews said. "We're also realizing that we can actually get a little more coverage in the U.S. than we thought with even fewer nodes. I think our original number for the U.S was like 106, but we don't even need that many now in the U.S. for our build. So that's good."