Summer C-Level Series: Roji Oommen, CenturyLink

Terry Flanagan

What have been the major themes of your business so far this year?
CenturyLink Technology Solutions’ focus is on delivering an integrated unified platform of cloud services and dedicated managed services across our global datacenter footprint. The platform is designed to deliver agility, security, and scalability. Our vision is that while over the long term we think most applications are going to be cloud-native, the reality of today’s IT environments require a hybrid approach, where firms can leverage cloud-based tools where possible. But where the technology won’t allow you to fully virtualize and go public, you could still take advantage of cloud-like economics. You have to minimize your CAPEX and move your spend primarily to OPEX.

The key element is that firms can outsource low levels of IT and refocus scarce resources towards differentiating and innovating market activities. We believe this is a crucial way to drive greater value from IT, and that our focus on delivering a hybrid outsourced IT capability is a key differentiator.

Roji Oommen, Savvis

Roji Oommen, Savvis

CenturyLink has tremendous economies of scale. We’re one of the largest data center operators and managed services firms in the world. We allow you to scale up or scale down your environment based on business demands. As we’ve certainly seen in the securities trading market over the past year, volumes are at historical lows and if you’ve got a fixed IT cost base, these times are especially challenging, as your profits may no longer support the expense.

With a hybrid scalable approach you can turn up or turn down your IT cost based on demand, and it allows you to right size your footprint based on the prevailing business environment, providing a much more efficient and responsive cost base. The other significant advantage is around business agility – it allows you try out new things without a long capital investment cycle. If you want to try to enter a new market, grow in a new geography, experiment with a different asset class, or bring a new product to market, you could spin up IT instances on demand, try it out, scale it fast. Then, hopefully, if you’re successful, scale up your business without making massive investments in resources or people.

What has surprised you in 2014?
We all knew that the capital markets business would be facing fairly strong headwinds due to both regulatory uncertainty and the decline in volumes. We have been pleasantly surprised by the willingness of large and sophisticated organizations to embrace cutting edge technology and completely transformational IT practices. The extent to which companies are willing to take advantage of new capabilities as they come to market has been quite a surprise. Firms are typically very conservative – even the leading-edge firms are fairly conservative relative to other industries. I think the decline in volumes, and the sort of secular slowdown in the market has led people to potentially be very aggressive in the way they use technology to mitigate these challenges.

What are your expectations for the duration of 2014?
We’ve articulated our vision for a modern IT organization and how a dynamic, modern IT platform is a critical element. Our goal is to bring that completely to market. We expect to see continued strong uptake of our public cloud infrastructure. We’re going to be launching our new managed private cloud later on in the year in response to huge demand from financial services firms. Overall, I think the market’s going to be healthy. As we emerge from these current challenges, everyone’s going to have a much more sustainable cost base, and we look forward to the rest of the year.

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