Moving to essentially provide a higher level of abstraction through which it can deliver cloud computing services, CenturyLink this week announced that the distribution of the Cloud Foundry platform-as-a-service environment from Pivotal, a unit of EMC, is now available in the CenturyLink Cloud Marketplace. That offering is the second PaaS environment that CenturyLink offers after acquiring AppFog, another provider of a PaaS based on Cloud Foundry, in 2013.

Dave Shacochis, vice president of cloud platform for CenturyLink, said the cloud service provider is embracing Pivotal CF as a mechanism for making its underlying infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) platform more accessible to the developer community. Rather than just presenting developers with an IaaS, Shacochis said Cloud Foundry PaaS environments provide developers with a framework to both build their applications and manage the underlying IaaS environment.

To accomplish that goal, Shacochis said that CenturyLink wrapped a set of OpenStack-compatible application programming interfaces around its IaaS platform. The IaaS platform, noted Shacochis, isn’t based on OpenStack, but rather makes use of the APIs to make it simpler to lay the Cloud Foundry PaaS on top of the CenturyLink IaaS environment.

As an open source PaaS Cloud Foundry is rapidly becoming a de facto platform. The most attractive thing about embracing Cloud Foundry, said Scacochis, is that it enable CenturyLink to provide access to a private set of PaaS services that is based on a multi-tenant IaaS platform. That means CenturyLink is able to leverage all the economics of a public cloud while essentially still give customers their own private PaaS cloud, said Shacochis.

While IT organizations may still acquire IaaS platforms separately just about anybody looking to make use of a PaaS needs a place to host it. Scacochis said CenturyLink is looking to move beyond being solely a provider of hardware infrastructure in the cloud to include software that makes it simpler to access and manage CenturyLink cloud services at a higher level of abstraction. As part of that effort CenturyLink has also acquired companies such as Orchestrate, a provider of a database-as-a-service (DBaaS) offering that is based on a NoSQL database. Other cloud-related acquisitions made by CenturyLink include Savvis, Tier 3 and Data Gardens.

While historically CenturyLink has focused its channel efforts on recruiting agents to resell its services, the company in recent months has been making a concerted effort to expand its presence in the channel. As an alternative to public cloud services such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, CenturyLink is making a case for a set of cloud services that channel partners will it says are backed up by levels of support from CenturyLink hat larger cloud service providers are simply not prepared to match. In a world where most solution providers are reselling the exact same cloud service that approach may provide a level of much needed differentiation for CenturyLink partners.