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Optical/IP

XO Keeps Cloud in the Family

XO Communications Inc. Tuesday unveiled an expanded cloud services strategy, in the process resurrecting one of the earliest and best brands in the managed and hosted services realm.

Under a new unit within XO named Concentric Cloud Solutions, the competitive carrier will offer enterprise cloud services, managed hosting services, cloud-based storage and cloud-based backup and disaster recovery. Concentric was a business ISP in the '90s that was known for its hosted services and merged with Nextlink to form XO in 2000. (See XO Ups Its Cloud Ante.)

XO is also teaming with Limelight Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: LLNW) to offer content acceleration services in the cloud, and deliver a cloud-based contact center service for providing customer care, audio and video-conferencing, hosted email and voice services.

Obviously, XO is not early to the cloud party, but the carrier initially is targeting its own customer base, which includes many small to mid-sized businesses that are considered hot prospects for cloud services. XO may well be in time to meet the needs of the businesses that currently use its network services and the Concentric hosting services it has continued to provide.

Peter Papavasiliou, vice president of marketing for Concentric Cloud Solutions, says the company expects to set apart its cloud offerings in a couple of key ways. First, it will offer customizable bundles of services that start at very low cost -- as low as $45 a month -- for small businesses with specific needs.

XO is also developing a user interface for provisioning of all of its services. It's essentially the 2.0 version of the Concentric interface that has been in use for some time now, developed by the team that did Version 1.0.

"We are working on a single UI for the full range of services," something that could be available this year, Papavasiliou adds. "By creating a cloud unit within XO, we will be able to move with the speed of a startup."

The other important step XO is taking is training specialized service reps to sell the cloud services, and working with the value-added resellers (VARs) that sell its current network and hosted services to prepare them to sell cloud. That might seem like a small thing, but inability to sell a cloud service -- which is fundamentally different from a network service -- can be the downfall of a cloud offering.

Why this matters
Telecom service providers want into the cloud to find new revenue for their data pipes and can't afford to be marginalized by pure-play cloud strategies. Having a solid cloud strategy at least puts XO into the game.

For more

— Carol Wilson, Chief Editor, Events, Light Reading

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