CenturyLink is one of the largest retail colocation providers in the world. Based in Monroe, Louisiana, it has over 55 data centres in Europe, North America and Asia. Together, they offer more 185,000 square metres of raised floor space.

At the moment, the company has 13 locations providing cloud infrastructure, but this is expected to rise to around 20 over the next year as part of an expansion in cloud services. While thinking last year was around possible acquisitions, with Rackspace mentioned as an option to expand cloud services, CenturyLink has now, it seems, decided to develop its own cloud offering.

New locations will include the company’s first Asian cloud data centre, based in Singapore, designed to tap into the massive unmet demand for cloud services in the area. Both local companies and multinationals are said to be interested.

CenturyLink is confident enough in the reliability of its power and cooling systems to be able to offer 100% uptime service level agreements. And for the avoidance of all doubt, it’s not paying out for unmet commitments, either: the 100% uptime commitment is proven. The company has applied to the Uptime Institute to obtain Management and Operations certification for all its data centres, as external proof of their quality. CenturyLink’s commitment to early certification is a highly visible emphasis on excellence.

Customer offering

Apart from the 100% uptime commitment, CenturyLink’s data centres have high quality security systems, including physical infrastructure like perimeter fencing, gates and man traps, as well as 24/7 onsite security staff. They also use technology including video surveillance and biometric scanners. The centres cross-connect to a wide range of network providers, including CenturyLink’s own global Tier 1 backbone.

Customers have access to full-time, 24-hour customer support and optional extras. The company offers expertise in hybrid IT, support for disaster recovery and planning, and end to end IT solutions.

CenturyLink has also tapped into its customers’ concerns about data sovereignty, the principle that data should remain in the same country, and not cross borders. This is becoming increasingly important to cloud customers, especially in Singapore, and is one of the reasons for the global expansion by CenturyLink and others. In CenturyLink’s case, it has made a virtue out of a necessity by guaranteeing regional data sovereignty to its cloud customers.

Power and scalability

Recent news is that CenturyLink has a new natural gas-powered generation plant ready for commissioning at its Southern California site. Bought from Bloom Energy in a deal in 2013, the 500kW generator is part of an expansion of the site’s 2MW load. The data centre will be the first multi-tenant data centre in Southern California to use natural gas as a power source. That may not sound like a big claim, but it shows that CenturyLink is not afraid to innovate. It also gives it a unique selling point: clean energy.

CenturyLink finds more and more customers are asking about renewable energy which has become a key factor in colocation choices. It has also been something of a no-brainer price- and reliability-wise, because natural gas is cheaper than electricity in the data centre’s location, especially with federal tax incentives, and the lines are more reliable. It seems likely to be rolled out into at least some of CenturyLink’s other data centres around the world.

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