savvis_1Once the pending acquisition of Savvis by CenturyLink is completed, the longtime provider of hosting, co-location and other services is likely to be absorbed somewhat into the much larger fabric of a major telecom service provider. But the company’s roots in providing cloud services—and predecessors of what are now called cloud services—are key to why the company made such an attractive buyout target for CenturyLink.

Brian Doerr, chief technology officer for Savvis, pointed out that the company was providing cloud-equivalent services long before the terminology was as common as it is now.

“We started commercially in 2001 offering VPNs, and in our VPNs we virtualized the router and the firewall,” Doerr said. “All that was done with virtual solutions—that was a very early example of what makes up the underpinnings of today’s cloud services.”

Savvis targets large enterprises with its cloud solutions, Doerr said—$200 million and up in annual revenue. With companies of that size, he said, often the biggest challenge in making the migration to cloud services is the internal capabilities they already have in place—the data centers and people and other resources they already have invested in.

“Before they want to invest in cloud, they have to want to invest in outsourcing their IT infrastructure,” Doerr said. “For companies that have already done it themselves, that can be the biggest hurdle.”

But Doerr maintained that even for companies that size that have made major investments in IT already, the market for cloud services “has become frothy” because the cost of outsourcing has made it a much better value proposition.

As for how Savvis distinguishes itself among a crowded set of cloud providers, Doerr said the varying grades of services the company offers are attractive.

“Our cloud offering actually has three different grades of service built into it, so we can sell customers our low-grade, mid-grade and high-grade,” he said. “We’re giving our customers an ability to place their IT into those grades of services based on what they’re trying to get accomplished.”

The company’s offerings are further set apart by security capabilities and performance guarantees, he said, particularly for large enterprises. Finally, Savvis believes the network portion of cloud services is critically important—a fact that ultimately becoming a part of a provider the size of CenturyLink certainly should help enhance.

“The network underpinning of your cloud solution is critical,” Doerr said, “but can be overlooked.”