Big Interview

Q&A with Ricky Chau, vice president, enterprises, CenturyLink Asia-Pacific

Ricky Chau.jpg

In the lead up to WAN Singapore, Capacity speaks to CenturyLink's Ricky Chau about the company's offerings in the SD-WAN and enterprise space

What is CenturyLink’s current enterprise offering in terms of SD-WAN?

CenturyLink began offering the Versa-based SD-WAN solution in mid-2016. This solution from CenturyLink was offered by the former Level 3, which CenturyLink acquired in 2017. Since its introduction, CenturyLink has installed over 1,000 sites of SD-WAN with over 1,000 on order and in the process of being turned up.

What activities has CenturyLink been involved in recently in this space?

In 2018 the focus has been to combine the CenturyLink and former Level 3 SD-WAN offerings into one. We are also planning our first international release SD-WAN in 36 countries later this month, which includes Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia. We plan on extending our SD-WAN offering to include Viptela early in 2019.  

Is CenturyLink seeing a growing demand from customers for SD-WAN adoption? If so, how is it supporting this transition?

Yes, without a doubt. Customers are asking to leverage SD-WAN to build hybrid private/public networks over MPLS and broadband. 88% of our SD-WAN customers are CenturyLink MPLS customers. Of those, 45% are using existing CenturyLink MPLS and adding managed broadband. 43% are ordering nett new MPLS service from us along with broadband. The remaining 12% of our SD-WAN customers are adding CenturyLink SD-WAN service to 3rd party networks, both MPLS and broadband. These days it’s rare to see an MPLS-only network requirement that does not include SD-WAN.

What role does security play in the shift to SD-WAN?

All networks need security. Creating hybrid networks, by their very nature, creates hybrid security requirements. 65% of our SD-WAN networks rely on our Advanced Security firewall offering at the edge of the SD-WAN network. This offering is template-driven and can be centrally configured and managed by the customer or by CenturyLink in a very flexible co-management arrangement. Some customers are taking a multi-zonal approach with our cloud-based security offering enhancing the edge security offered by the Versa device. Our product direction is to provide a fully integrated offering that allows for consolidated management of all devices across all security platforms, both Cloud-based and SD-WAN platforms.

Can you tell us about any recent enterprise deployments you’ve been involved in?

CenturyLink generally does not share client specific information on large scale deployments, but we can share some general information on two recent enterprise wins.

  1. A multi-national consumer brands company that produces a broad range of food products around the world completely rebuilt their network with SD-WAN over a hybrid infrastructure of MPLS and broadband to create a high availability network and lower costs at the same time. The first phase is for 84 sites, with 70% in the US, the remaining in Europe and Asia Pacific. 300+ additional sites will come online in future phases of the project.

  2. A US-based waste management and recycling company that built itself over the years from 300 acquisitions, had 200 network providers and needed a single provider to pull it all together with SD-WAN, across 400 sites in total - 360 in the US and Puerto Rico, 40 in Canada. This includes 800 circuits, both MPLS and Broadband.

What opportunity does the enterprise market present to an operator of CenturyLink’s size?

The enterprise market is in major transition with over 40% of enterprise applications being accessed over the internet. Addressing the needs of the enterprise market by providing secure hybrid networking solutions on a global basis represents the single largest opportunity for an operator like CenturyLink.  

What areas are you operating in geographically?

CenturyLink offers network services in 60 countries around the world today. Our SD-WAN solution was introduced in the US, Canada and Mexico starting mid-2016. In September 2018, we will bring SD-WAN to 36 countries around the world, with the focus on Europe. Our next focus, in the first half of 2019, will be on the Asia Pacific region, including China and India. Following that, we will bring SD-WAN services to Latin America in the second half of 2019.    


What future developments do you expect to see in the enterprise space?

CenturyLink believes the future development of the enterprise space is in the integration of multiple services over hybrid infrastructures. This includes security services, access to Cloud-based services providers, voice services, collaboration services and the like. Offering these to the enterprise market on a global basis, as part of fully integrated solutions, is what customers are looking for.