Windstream today joined the industry push to offer SD-WAN services, choosing VeloCloud technology to underpin the service and targeting mid-market business customers that are ramping up their use of cloud-based business applications. (See Windstream Launches SD-WAN With VeloCloud.)
Admitting its status as a "fast follower" on the SD-WAN front, Windstream deliberately timed its move to ensure it had a proven solution and one that was well suited to its specific customer base, which it defines as companies with between $25K and $200K monthly recurring revenue, says Mike Kozlowski, Windstream's vice president of product management.
He tells Light Reading in an interview that Windstream Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: WIN) chose VeloCloud for its product functionality but also its proven track record of deployments. (See VeloCloud Touts SD-WAN Wins.)
"Cloud services are starting to hit their growth curve in mid-market businesses," he says. "Our mid-market customers are in that wedge -- they don't always have the resources and the faculties to do the design and the implementation of networks. They are looking for partners such as Windstream to give them the managed service experience. We chose VeloCloud because we wanted to be a fast follower and make sure we are giving the best customer service experience with a proven technology leader."
Windstream announced Kona Grill, a growing restaurant chain, as its first named SD-WAN customer and Kozlowski says its needs are typical. The restaurant needed a turnkey solution it could replicate as it adds sites, to be centrally managed and able to support both the critical voice and data services for the business and on-site WiFi for Internet access.
The hybrid service approach allows customers to tailor their network service to a specific application, to include adding IP Sec capabilities to some SD-WAN traffic that need to be secured and prioritizing VoIP traffic for quality and latency issues, Kozlowski added.
Windstream is also able to give its customers a web-based portal view of how their applications are performing, although he admits that as the SD-WAN offering evolves, that may be augmented. Verizon recently added a vendor -- SevOne -- to be able to get greater visibility of multivendor SD-WAN for its customers. (See Verizon Turns to SevOne for SD-WAN Visibility.)
"We are pretty excited about what VeloCloud portal has provided to date in terms of applications performance," Kozlowski says. "But we know customers are always going to want more and more visibility."
Windstream's SD-WAN comes into a market that is already competitive but the company expects to compete with both network-based OTT players based on its strong and diverse network offering, including broadband wireless, Ethernet over Copper, fiber and established relationships with resellers, to reach a higher percentage of remote offices, he says. In addition, Windstream is adding SD-WAN to a broad portfolio of other service offerings.
Retailers represent its greatest opportunity, although financial services, professional services and healthcare are also key targets, Kozlowski comments. He says Windstream is eying further virtualization options, including virtual CPE (vCPE), but sees SD-WAN as the first step in the process of creating virtualized business service options.
— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading
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