Level 3 has achieved Advanced Partner in the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Partner Network (APN) status, advancing its standing in the cloud delivery ecosystem for its growing large and medium-sized enterprise customer base.
With its Cloud Connect Solutions, Level 3 Cloud Connect Solutions provide dedicated network connections as part of Level 3's membership in the APN to bolster enterprise and public sector access to the AWS (NASDAQ: AMZN) Cloud infrastructure and services.
As one of AWS's advanced partners, Level 3 enables enterprises to access Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) and Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC) from any location.
Business customers can access any AWS region through Level 3's network via the various global locations: Ashburn, Dublin, Frankfurt, Las Vegas, London, Los Angeles, New York, San Jose, Sao Paulo, Seattle, Singapore, Sydney and Tokyo.
A key focus of Level 3's work with AWS and other cloud players is flexibility. The service provider allows enterprise customers to get access AWS from any Layer 1-3 connection.
"We have a robust product line that includes all of Layer 1, Layer 2 and Layer 3 protocols so we can connect in at whatever the customer is requesting in terms of their preferred WAN infrastructure," said Brian Hoekelman, VP of business and cloud ecosystem development for Level 3, in an interview with FierceTelecom.
In addition to supporting multiple protocols, Level 3 provides two termination models: direct and hosted.
Direct takes a specific customer's network connection and terminates it into a dedicated port exclusively for that customer. That could be a 10 Gbps optical wavelength, for example.
With the hosted model, which Hoekelman said was developed in advance of AWS offering direct connectivity, consists of a 10 Gbps port that Level 3 procures multiple customers over a VLANs and Ethernet Virtual Connections (EVCs).
"We have a granular way that we do that," Hoekelman said. "AWS allows that to happen in certain speeds and feeds and we do that anywhere from 2 Mbps up to multiple Gbps, but it makes sense for a customer to go dedicated after they go above a gig."
To make the cloud interconnection process with AWS easier for its customers, Level 3 has developed what it calls "frictionless" service activation.
"We have done some API integration with them so that we create virtual interfaces to connect our network services to and we apply those to the customer," Hoekelman said. "We take a lot of the steps out of the activation process for the customer and automated them."
The service provider also allows enterprise customers to adjust bandwidth allocations with Adaptive Network Control solutions. These solutions allow customers to change network capacity to support their changing workload requirements.
"Our customers can flex the bandwidth up and down and do all of these unique SDN capabilities on their Direct Connect connections," Hoekelman said. "API interworking is the more advanced capabilities we developed and why AWS is starting to see us as one of their preferred network partners."
For Level 3, the new capabilities it has created for customers connecting to AWS means it could potentially lay the foundation to attract other businesses that are looking for alternative carriers or are nearing the end of a service contract.
"One of the things that our sales team gets excited about is we can start to deploy cloud solutions to customers that may be under contract with other carriers as a wedge strategy where we can say 'we know your broader VPN network is under contract, but let us take on some of these other services under our cloud ecosystem,'" Hoekelman said. "It gives us an opportunity to evaluate us for future opportunities."
Level 3 has continued to make progress in the cloud services arena, providing connectivity to over 20 percent of Fortune 50 companies.
While large enterprises are the focus, cloud providers like AWS and Microsoft Azure (NASDAQ: MSFT) are also looking to attract medium-sized businesses with their cloud services.
"We're excited to cut our teeth on the large customers, but we're really starting to see a broad adoption in the middle market as well," Hoekelman said.
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