Level 3 offers self-service path to AWS cloud, expands private networking options


Level 3 is giving its enterprise customers a new SDN-based self-serve option that allows enterprise-cloud customers more flexibility to connect to the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud service.

The new self-service feature, which is called Level 3 eLynk, is an Ethernet offering enabling customers to host multiple virtual local area networks (VLANs) on a single Ethernet Virtual Circuit (EVC) from a customer’s data centers to the AWS Direct Connect service.

Level 3 said this feature helps businesses optimize their cloud-based workloads by being able to call up bandwidth as needed.

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By using Level 3's Cloud Connect solutions, business customers can add VLANs to AWS (or remove them), including the connections to their virtual private clouds in near real-time via the MyLevel3 portal or API. Customers can also share bandwidth across their Amazon virtual private cloud (Amazon VPC) instances.

Chris McReynolds, VP of core product management at Level 3 Communications, told FierceTelecom that the focus of eLynk is on ease of use.

“What I am hearing from customers is they need a new piece of capacity to AWS and once that’s in place the customer wants to go in and take the private network connection and add that virtual connection to their cloud environment,” McReynolds said. “They asked us to make it automated and that was the fundamental customer problem we were trying to solve with this.”

Focus on private, flexible connections

As an AWS Direct Connect partner in the AWS Partner Network (APN), Level 3 Cloud Connect Solutions leverages AWS Direct Connect to provide private connection to AWS cloud.

None of the traffic will go over the public internet.

“We’re letting you run over an entirely private network between your facilities and the cloud provider’s facility,” McReynolds said.

Level 3 will connect the business sites via fiber to the AWS cloud service, supporting 3 Gbps of traffic flows.

“The common way we see this is either from an enterprise headquarters or from some of their key data centers that’s where they’re connecting their legacy applications to what they are doing in the cloud,” McReynolds said. “

Flexibility is another key element of this service. Offering this service in tandem with Level 3 Adaptive Network Control Solutions, customers gain increased visibility and control, including granular, real-time reporting and the ability scale bandwidth up and down as business demands shift.

The service is well suited for business customers that have different groups that need to accommodate specific network events like financial reporting or collecting data, for example.

“An enterprise’s CMO department might want to do data analytics on customer retention and it needs to connect to that private cloud in AWS, while the finance group needs to push a bunch of data into the cloud,” McReynolds said. “This is all customer self-serve via the portal and API.”

Driving global reach

Besides offering a private connection, this service is going to be available across all of its global sites. Customers can access this Ethernet-based offering across Level 3’s Metro 2.0 Ethernet footprint of nearly 290 markets in North America, EMEA and APAC.

Since providing connectivity to cloud services like AWS has become a common service for many carriers, Level 3’s global Ethernet reach will enable it to differentiate itself from other players. 

“We have a strong North American Ethernet offering and we have invested a fair amount of capital over the past two years to make that global from a global pricing that makes an offer truly global,” McReynolds said. “The upside is when we develop these capabilities on that platform are global and it’s rolling out in North America, Asia-Pacific and Latin America.”

Following its aggressive Ethernet rollout in North America, Level 3 extended the service across 27 locations in Europe.

More recently, Level 3 expanded its Metro 2.0 Ethernet platform and SDN solutions to the Asia-Pacific region, a move that capitalizes on its efforts to drive hybrid networking services into more markets.

Current and new enterprise customers can access Level 3’s Ethernet platform from two access points each in Hong Kong, Tokyo and Singapore. Level 3 has a total of six access points in the region.

Having Ethernet connectivity and SDN-based services available in multiple countries means customers can push their applications into the cloud from any location they reside.

“Whether our business customers are headquartered in North America or Europe, they’re developing their new applications and rolling them in the cloud based on where they’re located,” McReynolds said. “As soon as they get through a trial period, they want to push to AWS in a different region that needs that network connectivity.”