Anyone competing in the tech business these days knows you can’t let your guard down for a second. There’s always a fresh startup or status quo buster just waiting to pounce if you do. Even though CenturyLink holds a global leadership position in hybrid cloud, big data analytics, and IT consulting, we’re constantly working to improve our competitiveness.To provide customers with the greatest amount of choice, we now deliver dedicated and multi-tenant private clouds for our customers based on Vblock Systems architectures. With VCE’s converged infrastructure we can deliver cloud solutions to our customers more efficiently. To monitor and manage the converged infrastructures, we use VCE Vision Intelligent Operations software.It didn’t take long for us to reap the benefits of Vblock Systems. We had a new opportunity with InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), a fast-growinghospitality giant that operates 4,900 hotels across nine brands in 100 countries. IHG’s CIO put out an edict that everything had to be faster. IT needed to deliver resources to developers faster, and developers needed to get new applications to market quicker. So we built them a hybrid cloud using Vblock Systems for the private cloud environment, replicated between two of our data centers. Then we added extensions to our own public cloud offering, CenturyLink Cloud, which operates out of a third data center. The results have been tremendous. By moving IHG’s development group onto Vblock Systems, we helped them improve their business in four key areas:Increased agility – With Vblock Systems, IHG developers can self-provision virtual machines in minutes compared to weeks in a traditional infrastructure. Instead of taking three to six months to implement an application upgrade, they’re able to run through development and release cycles in weeks. It’s been a total game changer. Reduced cost – Working in a completely virtualized environment, the developers can get full utilization of underlying hardware. This eliminates the need to build parallel platforms for each stage of the release cycle, which saves IHG 20 percent on hardware costs. Mitigated risk – By spreading applications and services across the hybrid cloud, IHG now has a highly resilient production environment and disaster recovery solution. They can easily swing traffic from one data center to another and perform system maintenance without disrupting the business. They could even have an entire site go down and everything would keep running just fine. Simplified operations – We use VCE’s Release Certification Matrix (RCM) to streamline the process of keeping IHG’s software and firmware updates consistent and free of vulnerabilities. Because VCE vets and tests every microcode release, the RCM eliminates compatibility issues. We manage the process through VCE Vision Intelligent Operations, which makes it even easier.This is just one example of what we’ve been able to do with Vblock Systems and hybrid cloud. The kind of success we’ve had with IHG extends to all our customers. It’s the answer to that “cost and time-to-market” challenge we face every day from customers around the world. There’s no question: VCE and Vblock give CenturyLink a compelling advantage in a hyper-competitive environment.If you’d like to learn more about how CenturyLink has helped IHG, please read our case study. In addition, please join me at the Gartner Data Center, Infrastructure & Operations Management Conference in Las Vegas where I will present the CenturyLink/IHG success story in VCE’s breakout session on December 8.