On Monday morning, Level 3 Communications announced that it is expanding its Adaptive Network Security feature into both the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region and South Africa -- and is tentatively planning further expansion into Latin America (LATAM).
Level 3 Communications Inc. (NYSE: LVLT) originally released Adaptive Network Security in May of last year. (See: Level 3's Richter: Security Is Better & Cheaper in the Cloud.) The Adaptive Network Security service offers a virtualized, cloud-based security model with next-generation firewall (NGFW) features -- hosted on dozens of "high-availability gateways" located across the company's global VPN. Until recently, these Adaptive Network Security gateways were concentrated in North America and Europe.
"The service is very popular and it seems to be picking up in momentum as customers learn about it and understand the value of it -- but what has surprised us is how customers intend to use the service; no two customers are alike," said Chris Richter, senior vice president of global managed security services at Level 3. "Because the service is very adaptive and very flexible, we are seeing a lot of customers who are on our own private network, but we have a number of customers who don't use our network at all and then learn about the service. So they are connecting to it through local ISPs and using our Adaptive Network Security services as a way to protect their Internet traffic, but getting there through third parties."
As a way to better reach and serve all of these customers, the company has announced four new gateways -- in new global regions, pursuant to the company's strategy to base gateway location primarily on customer demand and on existing network population density.
One gateway, in Johannesburg, is slated to be available within the next few weeks -- bringing Adaptive Network Security directly into the African market.
"The next in line for our customer base in Africa was South Africa, and Johannesburg turned out to be the best city in terms of our network population density," said Richter. "There are a billion people on the African continent, and it is still catching up with the rest of the world in terms of broadband high-speed Internet connectivity. That said, it also has among the highest growth rates of Internet connectivity of any place on the planet. It is evolving very, very rapidly."
The other three new Adaptive Network Security gateways are located in the APAC region -- one each in Hong Kong, Singapore and Sydney. According to Richter, these three gateways are already active, having recently come online. Richter emphasized the growth of cybersecurity threats in APAC as part of the reason behind Level 3's decisions to expand Adaptive Network Security there, pointing to a recent Level 3 report on the region's threat landscape.
"The reason we chose Europe, Asia-PAC and North America first is based on customer demand, but we are not stopping here," said Richter. "As the business grows and demand for it increases, we are also increasing our expansion of gateways."
Richter is referring, in part, to a fourth APAC gateway that is tentatively planned for Tokyo -- offering a direct transpacific connection between Japan and California via Level 3's own underwater pipes, in addition to other network connections that Level 3 leases). But Level 3 is planning expansion into more new regions beyond APAC and EMEA.
"The intent is to expand the gateway into Latin America -- and we have a very robust security business in Latin America already," said Richter. "From a market perspective, Latin America is still developing. They're still getting a lot of the high-speed network access; there's room to grow in terms of coverage. So as that evolves, the enterprises down there are becoming more accepting of cloud security and cloud computing platforms." (See: LATAM Region a Leader in Virtualized Cloud.)
Moreover, Level 3 also owns substantial undersea network infrastructure surrounding Central America and most of South America. The company currently plans to better leverage these connections for the placement of three additional Adaptive Network Security gateways -- in Bogotá, Colombia; Buenos Aires, Argentina; and São Paolo, respectively.
Richter cautioned that nothing has been finalized yet in terms of the order of deployment of upcoming gateways, but was clear that Level 3 would deploy these South American gateways "in the near future."
"The demand in Latin America is also there, but we had to prioritize our deployment," said Richter. "They're next in line. Definitely."
CenturyLink's $34 billion deal to buy Level 3 is expected to close this month. (See CenturyLink Agrees to Acquire Level 3.)
— Joe Stanganelli, Contributing Writer, Telco Transformation