Light Reading
A Minnesota service provider relies on its network strength and local presence to compete in the crowded SMB cloud market.

Enventis Strengthens Its Cloud Position

Jason Meyers
6/23/2014
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The Minnesota service provider Enventis is rolling out an expanded suite of cloud and enterprise services this week in hopes of bolstering its chances of becoming the IT brains for small and midsized businesses across its network footprint.

Enventis (NASDAQ: ENVE) operates a 4,200-mile fiber network that spans Minnesota and portions of Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. It expanded its portfolio to include an infrastructure-as-a-service application called Cloud Compute; a storage and disaster recovery solution called Data Protection; and Cloud WiFi, a monitoring platform for managing business wireless networks. The company also added messaging, video, and mobile features to its SingleLink hosted unified communication service.

All the services are targeted at what Enventis categorizes as the commercial business segment -- companies with 25-1,000 users.

"Think about the IT needs of the customers in that market: They can't afford to have specialists in all the areas we're talking about," says Darren Peterson, vice president of product marketing at Enventis. "The value of these kinds of services is that you don't need an expert. We provide that."

With companies of all stripes trying to sell cloud services to SMBs, Enventis will have to contend with everyone from cable operators to larger telcos to dedicated cloud providers. Peterson represented Enventis on a small carrier strategy panel at Light Reading's Big Telecom Event last week. During the panel discussion, he said being local is one of the strongest differentiators in the crowded SMB market. (See Small Telcos Don't Want Your Pity.)

"Most businesses still like to buy from people they know and people in their community," he says. "We find that to be true for most of our customers. If we're on par with our competitors, we're going to get the business."

Local sales, local service provisioning, and local customer support all make a difference, especially for businesses that are still leery of making the jump to cloud-based services. "You're going to have customers that are used to the service and can go buy it anywhere, but a broader base is still transitioning to cloud services. That's an area where we bring value. We help with that."

Being more local might help Enventis compete with larger operators like CenturyLink, Peterson says, but owning and operating the network also sets the provider apart from cloud providers like Amazon and Rackspace. "Driving these sorts of services over the top of our network is going to fundamentally change the way our customers use the network."

(See additional coverage from BTE at this special event site.)

Jason Meyers, Utility Communications Editor, Light Reading

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Carol Wilson
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Carol Wilson,
User Rank: Blogger
6/23/2014 | 5:29:39 PM
Growth of regional players
This is a great example of how regional companies are exploiting their local ties and at the same time becoming more sophisticated in the servcies they offer. 
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