CenturyLink plans to fully virtualize its network and data centers by 2018, the company said in a release. It’s currently building an end-to-end network platform with software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) capabilities to deliver a self-service application marketplace and on-demand services. By year-end, the company aims to virtualize 40% of its global IP core network locations. The company has already built its NFV platform in 36 network and data center locations in 7 countries, with plans to expand into a total of 44 locations by year-end. In the next few months, CenturyLink will start deploying a range of virtualized data and voice infrastructure services, including virtualized Multi Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) routers and Customer Premises Equipment (CPE) to enable dynamic delivery of scalable services for customers. Virtualization was also a hot topic at the SCTE Cable-Tec Expo last week as SDN and NVF enhance the cloud model to improve time to market and help service providers add new features.