IBM has had another solid cloud quarter – and now the company is extending its collaboration with telecoms provider CenturyLink to beef up enterprise connectivity in new markets. The move is part of a wider initiative, the IBM Cloud Direct Link Service Provider Program, which enables IBM customers to select their preferred provider for direct connectivity to IBM’s cloud. The initiative is available in the Americas, Europe and Asia Pacific with 21 partners on board including Digital Realty and Colt, with the CenturyLink rollout being available in European, North and Latin American markets.

The reasoning behind the initiative will be familiar to industry watchers; the increasing complexity of workloads, whether through multi-cloud initiatives or more intensive data crunching through the Internet of Things and machine learning. More clouds being utilised need more connectivity options, with IBM citing an IDC study which found companies with a defined hybrid cloud strategy achieve 2.5x higher gross profits.

There are two options for organisations to consider; Direct Link Connect, which favours multi-cloud with private access to IBM cloud infrastructure through a CenturyLink IP VPN connection, and Direct Link Dedicated, utilising CenturyLink’s dedicated broadband service for fast and reliable data transfer. “The goal in CenturyLink’s integration with IBM Cloud Direct Link was to bring a network experience that simplifies and enhances the cloud experience,” wrote Paul Hertzfeldt, IBM Cloud Direct Link manager in a blog post. “Both [Direct Link Connect and Dedicated] are offered on a global basis and optimise network architecture for low latency and high performance.

“They’re designed to satisfy even the most demanding enterprise workloads and compliment your hybrid cloud strategy,” Hertzfeldt added. Last month IBM posted a third consecutive quarter of growth, with cloud revenues going up 20% year on year and representing almost a quarter of the company’s total revenue. Jim Kavanaugh, SVP and chief financial officer, said IBM was “becoming the destination for mission-critical workloads in hybrid environments” – although it’s worth noting that all of the hyperscalers are continuing to grow and increase their market share at the expense of the competition.

CenturyLink at one point held lofty cloud ambitions of its own; indeed, this publication asked in May 2014 ‘can CenturyLink take on cloud’s big three?’ Yet with telco cloud initiatives going sideways as the Amazons, Microsofts et al just kept on growing, while the company continues to offer cloud computing and managed services, helping connectivity with the bigger cloud providers has seemed a more likely route to market.

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