The annual publication of the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure as a Service, Worldwide1 is a report card of sorts for each vendor, handed out based on the reams of data Gartner collects from countless interviews and quantitative analysis.

As we look in the rear-view mirror and evaluate our own performance over the last 12 months, two major themes stand out:

Successful ‘table stakes’ execution

To gain a significant chunk of the cloud market in the years to come, a provider must consistently:

  • Deliver operational excellence – meet and exceed SLAs for customers, including some of the world’s largest brands.
  • Rapidly develop new capabilities – we launched new services and features month after month. Further, the DevOps mindset is woven into our organizational philosophy and structure, so CenturyLink can continue to release early and often.

Compete on price, specifically hourly compute – there’s far more to cloud costs than just the sticker price shown on websites. But the top vendors have demonstrated scale and efficiency with regular price drops. CenturyLink Cloud’s sticker prices – and bundled add-ons – make for a compelling and differentiated value prop.

We believe CenturyLink passed these 3 tests, as did the others who faired well in the 2015 edition of the MQ. NOTE: this is hard to do! About a half-dozen cloud providers worldwide can credibly say they can do all 3 of these things.

Expansion beyond elastic public cloud services

Gartner pointed to a handful of new capabilities that we believe showcase CenturyLink’s depth and breadth:

Marketplace – our ecosystem strategy has brought dozens of 3rd party solutions onto our management portal. Creating and scaling cloud environments that require a range of services has never been easier – customers just point and click to deploy a Blueprint for AlertLogic or MongoDB, to name just a couple.

Single-tenant version – this is a private cloud offering: our public cloud stack, physically isolated on hardware dedicated to a single customer. The service is suitable for the largest companies with a chunk of workloads that aren’t a good fit for the public cloud for whatever reason. Our public and private cloud offerings can be managed through a single interface, simplifying so-called hybrid cloud deployments.

New support packages – we’ve combined our expertise in supporting enterprises (from our heritage with Savvis and other acquisitions) with the scale and automation required in the cloud era. The end result is new support packages that offer customers human expertise when they need it, combined with surgical, efficient resolution of issues for the majority of other requests.

M&A, done right - take a look back at the acquisitions CenturyLink has made in the last six years:

  • Qwest – world-class fiber network, that made CenturyLink the 3rd largest telecom provider in the US at the time. Now, globally we manage thousands of miles of fiber around the globe.

  • Savvis – today our footprint is over 60 data centers worldwide, and includes a strong portfolio of managed hosting and related services.

  • Tier 3, AppFog, DataGardens, Cognilytics, and Orchestrate.io – highly automated, “born on the cloud” services that run on top of our datacenters, interconnected via our fiber.

It’s a compelling story, especially under the backdrop of other M&A activity in the industry that has been a mixed bag at best.

A Look Ahead - The CenturyLink Playbook

We were named a “Visionary” for the second straight year – so you may be asking at this point ‘what is your vision’?

It’s “Platform CenturyLink” - a unified, highly automated interface for managing and provisioning infrastructure.

The Platform includes a variety of infrastructure services that “map” to common enterprise application design patterns, so customers can create, scale, and run Mode 1 and Mode 2 workloads in the same place. Public cloud, private cloud, Cloud Foundry, and much more – all in an integrated management, billing, and support experience.

This notion of “Platform” is the next logical step along CenturyLink’s transition to a cloud company. And we’d love to have you along for the journey with us! As a first step, download the full Gartner Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure as a Service, Worldwide to get the latest analysis on the cloud market.

1 Gartner; Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure as a Service, Worldwide; Lydia Leong, et al; May 18, 2015

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