Meet the CTOs in wireline: CenturyLink’s Aamir Hussain

This story is part of a broader Meet the CTOs feature that introduces all of the major network operator CTOs across the wireless, telecom and cable industries. To read about top network CTOs from other companies, click here.

Who he is: As the CTO of CenturyLink, Aamir Hussain leads the telco’s product development and technology organization, including its information technology group. A 25-year telecom veteran, he joined CenturyLink in 2014. Hussain leads a team that oversees the design and delivery of next generation products, services, technologies and IT functions critical to achieving CenturyLink’s priorities.

Before joining CenturyLink, Hussain held senior leadership roles at Liberty Global, Covad, Telus and Qwest. Outside of his work at CenturyLink, Hussain sits on several startup and non-profit boards, is a technical advisor to several technology companies, and holds 11 patents in telecommunications.

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Where he is: Reporting directly to Glen Post, CEO and chairman of CenturyLink, Hussain has five people who directly report to him. These five executives have responsibility over a number of key areas: digital platform, network product development, development/integration architecture and innovation, product and services strategy, and portal tools and business enablement. In 2015, Hussain realigned his CTO organization to include 10 functional areas, such as business transformation, OTT services, cloud services, test and integration, and product development, each of which will be headed up by a specific vice president.

CenturyLink said it is also trying to fill a position of vice president for infrastructure operations, project management and governance support. This role is responsible for all corporate IT operations, CenturyLink cloud customer operations and technology operations support.

What he’s doing: As Hussain settled into his CTO role at CenturyLink, one of his first moves was to revamp the telco’s cloud strategy in 2015. Having purchased multiple cloud-related providers, including Savvis, Tier 3, AppFog, Cognilytics, and others, the service provider needed a way to create a platform that allowed it to provide a consistent service experience.

"Our opportunity is unique because we own something called the network that puts it all together, and we have acquired Savvis, Tier 3 and AppFog, but now the challenge is to sell and build a service that we provide to our customer across these four or five different domains," Hussain said in a previous interview with FierceTelecom.

However, from a technology transition standpoint, the top item on Hussain’s to-do list today is network virtualization. Hussain’s team is leading up the telco’s effort to transform its network using SDN and NFV technologies, technologies that promise to automate network functions while cutting costs and enabling more network flexibility.

For example, CenturyLink recently introduced its new software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) offering, an approach to designing and deploying an enterprise WAN that uses SDN to determine the most effective way to route traffic to a business’ remote branch offices. Set to become available this quarter, CenturyLink’s SD-WAN offering is currently being tested by 10 enterprise customers.

But this month Hussain gained another major to-do item with CenturyLink’s announcement that it will acquire Level 3 Communications. If the deal closes as expected next year, Hussain and his team will have a greater set of domestic and international fiber and service assets to use to advance CenturyLink’s business services reach. However, the challenge will be in integrating the two large networks into something cohesive.

Besides gaining a larger set of fiber assets, CenturyLink will also gain Level 3’s own SDN advancements, including on-demand services via the company’s Adaptive Network Control Solutions with Enhanced Management and Dynamic Capacity.

Beyond SDN and Level 3, CenturyLink’s Hussain is also leveraging a three-pronged technology strategy – including GPON-based fiber to the premises, vectoring with VDSL, and G.fast – to increase the availability of its consumer broadband services. Already Hussain’s team has rolled out G.fast in Platteville, Wisconsin, targeting buildings that have existing copper and coax infrastructure.

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