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
Mitch Wagner
50%
50%
Mitch Wagner,
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. 
Educational Resources
sponsor supplied content
Educational Resources Archive
Flash Poll
From The Founder
It's clear to me that the communications industry is divided into two types of people, and only one is living in the real world.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Dr. Dong Sun Talks About Carriers' Digital Transformation & Huawei’s Telco OS

1|29|15   |   6:28   |   (0) comments


Dr. Dong Sun, Chief Architect of Digital Transformation Solutions at Huawei, discusses how telecom operators can become digital ecosystem enablers and deliver optimal user experiences that are in real-time, on-demand, all-online, DIY and social (ROADS).
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Chief Network Architect Talks about Network Experience & Operators’ Strategies

1|29|15   |   3:39   |   (0) comments


In the digital age, network experience has become the primary productivity especially for telecom operators. In this video, Wenshuan Dang, Huawei’s Chief Network Architect, discusses how carriers can tackle the challenge of infrastructure complexity in order to enhance business agility and improve user experience.
LRTV Documentaries
The Rise of Virtual CPE

1|27|15   |   01:38   |   (4) comments


As NFV strategies evolve from tests and trials to production telco networks, expect to hear a lot about virtual CPE (customer premises equipment) rollouts during 2015.
LRTV Documentaries
Optical Is Hot in 2015

1|23|15   |   01:56   |   (2) comments


Optical comms technology underpins the whole communications sector and there are some really hot trends set for 2015.
LRTV Custom TV
Policy Control in the Fast Lane

1|22|15   |   2:57   |   (0) comments


What's making policy control strategic in 2015 and beyond? Amdocs talks with Heavy Reading's Graham Finnie about the key factors driving change in the data services landscape. Find out what his policy management research reveals about the road ahead for policy control – and sign up for
LRTV Documentaries
Highlights From the 2020 Vision Executive Summit

1|21|15   |   4:33   |   (2) comments


In December 2014, Light Reading brought together telecom executives in Reykjavik, Iceland to discuss their vision for high-capacity networks through the end of the decade. The intimate, interactive meeting was set against the backdrop of Iceland's spectacular natural beauty. As one of the event's founding sponsors, Cisco's Doug Webster shared his company's ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Pay-TV Partner Harmonic, Helping Carriers Accelerate 4K Video Deployment with Huawei

1|20|15   |   5:42   |   (1) comment


At IBC, Peter Alexander, Senior Vice President & CMO at Harmonic, speaks about the growing interest in pay-TV service and its branching into multiple devices.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Sony Marketing Director Olivier Bovis Discusses the Outlook for 4K and Cooperation With Huawei at IBC 2014

1|20|15   |   6:50   |   (0) comments


At IBC, Olivier Bovis, Marketing Director of Sony, speaks about the coming of the 4K era.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Pay-TV Partner Envivio, Helping Carriers Accelerate 4K Video Deployment

1|20|15   |   2:57   |   (0) comments


At IBC, Olivier Bovis, Marketing Director of Sony, speaks about the coming of the 4K era.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Pay-TV's Networked Future

1|20|15   |   6:29   |   (0) comments


At IBC, Jeff Heynen, Principal Analyst at Infonetics, speaks about the future of the pay-TV industry and its transition.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Jeff Heynen: Distributed Access Will Help MSOs Compete in the Future

1|20|15   |   2:26   |   (0) comments


At IBC, Jeff Heynen, Principal Analyst at Infonetics, speaks about moving to distributed access and the future trend of cable business.
LRTV Interviews
Cisco Talks Transformation

1|20|15   |   13:02   |   (0) comments


In December 2014, Steve Saunders sat down with Cisco VP of Products & Solutions Marketing Doug Webster at Light Reading's 2020 Vision executive summit in Reykjavik, Iceland. They spoke about Cisco's approach to network virtualization as well as how service providers can begin to monetize high-capacity networks through the end of the decade.
Upcoming Live Events
February 5, 2015, Washington, DC
February 19, 2015, The Fairmont San Jose, San Jose, CA
March 17, 2015, The Cable Center, Denver, CO
April 14, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City, NY
May 12, 2015, Grand Hyatt, Denver, CO
May 13-14, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 8, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9, 2015, Chicago, IL
September 9-10, 2015, The Westin Galleria Dallas, Dallas, TX
September 29-30, 2015, The Westin Grand Müchen, Munich, Germany
November 11-12, 2015, The Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
December 1, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City
December 2-3, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City
Infographics
Hot Topics
Google Continues Gigabit Expansion
Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Gigabit Cities/IoT, 1/27/2015
Cablevision's New WiFi Try – Freewheeling Enough?
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 1/26/2015
Overture Builds on NFV Foundation
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 1/27/2015
Comcast Apologizes to 'A**hole' Brown
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 1/29/2015
NTT DoCoMo Takes on Retail Broadband
Robert Clark, 1/29/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Weekly Executive Interview
Join us live for Light Reading's interview with Jay Samit, the newly appointed CEO of publicly traded SeaChange International Inc. With a resume that includes Sony, EMI, and Universal, Samit brings a reputation as an entrepreneur and a disruptor to his new role at the video solutions company. Hear what he has to say about the opportunities in video, as well as the outlook for cable, telco, OTT and mobile service providers.