AUSTIN, Texas -- Big Communications Event (BCE) -- CenturyLink is speeding down the virtualization superhighway. During the Big Communcations Event in Austin this week, CenturyLink's James Feger said that 50% of the company's edge locations now have virtualized services.
"We made an announcement that we wanted at least 40% of our edge locations to have virtualization by the end of 2015," Feger said during a panel session at BCE. "We actually beat it."
In October, CenturyLink Inc. (NYSE: CTL) announced an overall goal of having full global virtualization coverage in its IP core network and data centers by 2018. (See CenturyLink CTO Hussain Maps Out Virtualization.)
Feger, CenturyLink's vice president of infrastructure support, said his company was conducting "real-world" SD-WAN trials with different types of businesses across multiple locations.
"We're getting some very valuable data back in terms of how the customers interact with it (SD-WAN), how it's responding and how we interact with it," he said. "I think there are definitely real world examples of how this transformation is happening."
In the past, Feger said attendees at shows such as BCE would debate whether companies could change their cultures to take advantage of SDN, NFV and virtualization. Based on what he has seen to date, Feger said he believed that companies could change their cultures, but "culture" is just one element in service providers' transformations.
"I think overall, everyone agrees this is good stuff, but where I really believe we struggle is with the talent," Feger said. "How do you operationalize this? How do you interact with the customer? How do you educate the customer because this is new to everybody and we're all experiencing it at the same time?"
The difference between past technology advances and this one, according to Feger, is this wave is unfolding in front of the customers and the people who are developing the technologies and services.
"When we have conversations with the CIOs, they're asking the same questions that we asked," Feger said. "It's a matter of not getting ahead of yourself. It's a matter of developing the talent within the company, whether it’s the technical resources, the customer facing resources or the marketing resources.
"I always equate it to [sports] development leagues, or minor league teams where we actually have a great talent of people with ridiculous knowledge of the game, but what we haven't done yet is actually perfected the skills to support where we're going."
— Mike Robuck, Editor, Telco Transformation