Light Reading
Operator focuses on businesses closest to its 27 data centers in delivering a consultative approach to selling cloud.

Windstream Makes Regional Cloud Play

Carol Wilson
3/6/2014
50%
50%

Like its larger telecom brethren, Windstream Communications recognized the importance of cloud years ago, bought significant assets in the space, and has been working at incorporating its cloud and data center operations into its overall network services business ever since. (See Windstream Buys Hosted Solutions and Windstream Unwraps Cloud Strategy.)

But unlike companies such as Verizon Terremark and CenturyLink Inc. (NYSE: CTL) Cloud Solutions, formerly known as Savvis, Windstream Communications Inc. (NYSE: WIN)'s strategy is more regionally based; in fact, you might even say it has a local flavor.

Windstream is building out a national services presence, but its cloud sales focuses on enterprises and small to mid-sized businesses (SMBs) within a 200-mile radius of its 27 data centers, including the most recent addition, a fourth data center in Charlotte, N.C. (See Windstream Adds Fourth Charlotte Datacenter and Windstream's Plan for Paetec.)

The thinking is to focus resources on where Windstream can do a consultative sale, says Rob Carter, director of product marketing for hosted solutions, and where possible to combine Windstream's network services and hosted/cloud options in the way that makes the most sense for the customer. That includes hybrid offerings of public and private clouds.

"We are solution focused, not a credit card swipe," Carter says. "Typically our customers have a strong e-commerce presence or there is some mission-critical app for which they need support, not just being able to turn up or turn down cloud services."

One example he cites is a customer that is running clinical trials for medication and needs to give its trial participants cellphones on which they can regularly enter feedback. That data needs to be collected, stored, secured, and analyzed for the period of the trial. The customer counts on Windstream to provide the appropriate technology piece and the overall integration.

"We talk to them and evaluate what they need and deliver it end-to-end," Carter says. "We have the services and it's not fluff, it's real."

Customized clouds
While most telecom cloud providers are also looking at custom sales, in addition to commodity offers, Windstream's more regional focus lets the operator target its expertise and the training needed for both sales and support. The company recently announced an extensive cloud training for its value-added resale partners to enable them to establish "cloud-ready" or "cloud-motivated" status with Windstream for taking its specialized services to market.

"There is a lot of orchestration involved," Carter says. He includes robust infrastructure services, cloud service, storage, and analytics all as core competencies of Windstream's, but its real push is in tying all that together to prove to a CTO or CIO how the carrier can solve their business problems.

The local flavor can be an advantage, says Heavy Reading Senior Analyst Caroline Chappell, because it builds on an established reputation.

"Operators can make a virtue of being local to enterprise customers when selling cloud services," says Chappell, commenting in general and not directly on what Windstream is doing. "Issues of security and trust loom large when enterprises think about cloud so the close physical presence of an operator can paradoxically, be reassuring. Proximity also makes it easier and more cost-effective for the operator to deliver personalized support services around the cloud, such as consultancy services, which are high value compared to cloud services themselves and cement the operator-customer relationship. "

One other advantage is that customers can usually inspect Windstream's data centers for their own peace of mind, Carter says, and know their data and apps are not being hosted and stored in a telco closet or point of presence. The network operator does capitalize on having diverse data centers for some offers, such as disaster recovery services.

Where Windstream has invested heavily is in support and sales training, overcoming what Carter admits were internal conflicts over who sells what and how sales people are compensated. There may be three Windstream sales associates involved in the initial process of addressing customer needs, but what emerges is one solution for that customer, he says.

The company isn't interested in taking on the IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM)s of the world or in getting into the commodity business of an Amazon Web Services LLC , but it does address a wide range of businesses of varying sizes within its sweet spot -- and sometimes even beyond.

"We do have customers outside the 200-mile circle," Carter says. "But that's not where we are focused. "

— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading

(1)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
FakeMitchWagner
50%
50%
FakeMitchWagner,
User Rank: Lightning
3/6/2014 | 7:24:50 PM
Going local
With cloud becoming a global commodity, it makes sense for a company like Windstream to tack against the wind and serve local companies who require high-touch services. For one thing, high-touch service is less likely to be outsourced to some developing nation somewhere. 
Flash Poll
LRTV Custom TV
A New Security Paradigm in SDN/NFV

7|28|14   |   02:54   |   (0) comments


Paul Shaneck, Global Director Network Solutions for Symantec, discusses the evolving virtualized network, explaining how Symantec is leading the security discussion as it relates to SDN and NFV, and helping to ensure the network is protected and compliant.
LRTV Documentaries
Sprint's Network Evolution

7|24|14   |   14:59   |   (0) comments


Sprint's Jay Bluhm gives a keynote speech at the Big Telecom Event (BTE) about Sprint's network and services evolution strategy, including Spark.
LRTV Documentaries
BTE Keynote: The Software-Defined Operator

7|24|14   |   18:43   |   (1) comment


Deutsche Telekom's Axel Clauberg explains the concept of the software-defined operator to the Big Telecom Event (BTE) crowd.
Light Reedy
Numbers Are In: LR's 2014 Salary Survey

7|24|14   |   1:25   |   (7) comments


Our fourth annual Salary Survey paints a picture of who's hiring, firing, earning, and yearning for a change in the telecom industry.
LRTV Custom TV
Driving the Network Transformation

7|23|14   |   4:29   |   (0) comments


Intel's Sandra Rivera discusses network transformation and how Intel technologies, programs, and standards body efforts have helped the industry migration to SDN and NFV.
LRTV Custom TV
Distributed NFV-Based Business Services by RAD

7|18|14   |   5:38   |   (0) comments


With the ETSI-approved Distributed NFV PoC running in the background, RAD's CEO, Dror Bin, talks about why D-NFV makes compelling sense for service providers, and about the dollars and cents RAD is putting behind D-NFV.
LRTV Custom TV
MRV – Accelerating Packet Optical Convergence

7|15|14   |   6:06   |   (0) comments


Giving you network insight to make your network smarter.
LRTV Custom TV
NFV-Enabled Ethernet for Generating New Revenues

7|15|14   |   5:49   |   (0) comments


Cyan's Planet Orchestrate allows service providers and their end-customers to activate software-based capabilities such as firewalls and encryption on top of existing Ethernet services in just minutes.
LRTV Custom TV
Symkloud NVF-Ready Video Transcoding, Big Data

7|9|14   |   3:41   |   (0) comments


Kontron and ISV partner Vantrix demonstrate high-performance video transcoding and data analytic solutions on same 2U standard platform that is ready for SDN and NFV deployments made by mobile, cable and cloud operators.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
The Evolving Role of Hybrid Video for Competitive Success

7|4|14   |   4:09   |   (0) comments


At Huawei's Global Analysts Summit in Shenzhen, China, Steven C. Hawley from TV Strategies speaks to us about the evolving role of hybrid video for competitive success.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
How CSPs Leverage Big Data in the Digital Economy

7|4|14   |   4:48   |   (2) comments


Justin van der Lande from Analysys Mason shares with us his views on how telecom operators can leverage customer asset monetization with big data. His discusses the current status of big data applications and the challenges and opportunities for telecom operators in the digital economy era.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Accelerator for Digital Business – Future Oriented BSS

7|4|14   |   3:08   |   (0) comments


Mobile and internet are becoming intertwined; IT and CT are integrating; and leading CSPs have begun to transform to information service and entertainment providers. How should the BSS system evolve to enable this transformation? Karl Whitelock, an analyst at Frost & Sullivan, shares his views.
Upcoming Live Events!!
September 16, 2014, Santa Clara, CA
September 16, 2014, Santa Clara, CA
October 29, 2014, New York City
November 6, 2014, Santa Clara
November 11, 2014, Atlanta, GA
December 9-10, 2014, Reykjavik, Iceland
Infographics
Packet Design asks network professionals how they handle the cloud, SDN, and network management.
Today's Cartoon
Vacation Special Caption Competition Click Here
Latest Comment
Hot Topics
Is Windstream Boldly Setting a New Trend?
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 7/29/2014
Facebook: 30% of Users Are Mobile-Only
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 7/24/2014
U-verse Growth Slips But Still Strong
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, 7/24/2014
Nokia Holds Steady in Q2, Raises Outlook
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 7/24/2014
Verizon Applies 3G Throttling Policy to LTE
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 7/25/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed