The Fourth Industrial Revolution is in full swing. Artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, the Internet of Things, voice assistants, and facial recognition are changing the way we live, and they’re changing the way the companies that produce these products and services work.
Lumen is a global technology service provider that aims to help mid- to large-size enterprises thrive during this revolution by providing the cutting-edge platform for all their applications and data analysis. Lumen positions itself as the fastest and most secure platform for next generation applications and data with a focus in four areas: adaptive networking, security, edge computing, and unified communications.
“The things we’re going to see will blow us away just like smartphones did when they were new,” says Lumen Senior Vice President of Product Management Services Paul Savill. “Lumen played a significant role in the Third Industrial Revolution as one of the largest Internet service providers, and we realized that we can play a major role in the fourth because of our abilities around edge compute, cloud, and application management.”
Consider the work Lumen recently did for a company that designs and manufactures cockpit electronics and connectivity apps for self-driving vehicles. It had an old-school, centralized IT model that worked well enough for the Third Industrial Revolution but not for the fourth, so it asked Lumen to break that centralized model into interoperable quadrants.
Lumen designed and built a decentralized IT infrastructure across four data centers on VMware Cloud Foundation, integrating its complex technology, delivering migration support and managed services to maintain business continuity during the transition, and creating an online provisioning portal that gave the IT team the control it needs to quickly add additional space, CPU capacity, and memory as needed. As a result, the company is vastly more agile, with provisioning time reduced from as much as eight weeks to as little as four days. Network outages are down, as are support and management costs. “We put them on a distributed solution, and provided all the connectivity, consulting and managed services pieces of their transition under one solution with Lumen and VMware,” says Lumen Chief Marketing Officer Shaun Andrews.
As one of the first companies to adopt VMware Cloud Foundation for its private cloud needs, Lumen has a long-standing partnership with VMware. It teamed up with VMware early on for all its private cloud and public cloud offerings, and VMware is the core of its edge compute plans. VMware Carbon Black and Lumen Black Lotus work together seamlessly, with VMware bringing end-point capabilities to the table to amplify Lumen’s threat intelligence. Another focus area is connected security with work-from-anywhere solutions. Lumen built a joint solution with VMware that wraps SD-WAN and security in a SASE model on top of the Lumen platform.
Lumen is going through its own transition to focus more on services, and its partnership with VMware is a key part of that. VMware uses solution competencies to certify that its partners have proven expertise in a specific VMware solution area, and Lumen has five of them, all critical to the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
“The partnership combined with our VMware competencies gives us real credibility with our customers when we say we're offering joint VMware-Lumen solutions,” Andrews says. “They know that we know VMware.”
The partnership with VMware is not strictly transactional. It’s based on personal relationships and a mutually compatible culture as much as on business. “Sometimes partnerships require paperwork and rules so that the two companies don’t step on each other's toes,” Andrews says, “but we don't have that kind of a partnership with VMware. It's trusting and forward-leaning, and we can get things done with a handshake.”
Recently, Lumen and VMware announced a Joint Innovation Lab, where the two companies combine their architecture and design, marketing, and sales services to develop Lumen-managed services in edge computing, work-from-anywhere, and security.
Edge computing saves bandwidth and improves response times by bringing computation and data storage closer to where it’s being used. Lumen and VMware are working together to expand edge compute capabilities, networking, and security using integrated VMware technologies that demand low, single-digit-millisecond latency.
Combining VMware Tanzu with Lumen Edge Bare Metal service and Lumen Dynamic Connections creates a more secure software supply chain to rapidly deploy native workloads on demand. Lumen is also integrating VMware SD-WAN, VMware Workspace ONE, and VMware Carbon Black into a work-from-anywhere edge solution. With edge services using VMware Tanzu, applications will be able to run consistently from the data center to the cloud to the edge, improving performance.
“In talking with our customers about their digital business initiatives,” Andrews says, “it comes up time and time again how important it is to support their applications at the edge, where latency matters and where enabling performance and geographical and security compliance is critical. We believe customers can benefit tremendously from the combination of Lumen’s edge compute, network and IT services, and VMware’s software to bring technology solutions closer, within milliseconds, of the digital interaction. Together we’re helping businesses acquire, analyze, and act upon their enterprise data to enable amazing outcomes across a range of industries and transformed business models.”
Many software companies want to leverage edge computing to serve their customers, and edge computing is especially critical in logistics and manufacturing, where companies have robots working in large areas and moving around with wireless tethers. “That's driving most of the use cases where Lumen and VMware come together on the edge,” Andrews says.