Windstream serves up enhanced cloud partner strategy, enhances SMB reach

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Windstream (Nasdaq: WIN) is deepening its reach to target underserved small to medium business (SMB) markets with a new program that will help channel partners establish their position in the cloud services segment.

This strategy was devised in response to channel partners who said they needed more guidance on cloud readiness while allowing Windstream to craft training and sales enablement tools to its partners based on their "cloud ready" or "cloud motivated" status.  

To support this new strategy, Windstream hired an additional 10 channel managers who are focused on cloud and data center services. Each of these channel partners will be charged with recruiting new value added reseller (VAR) and cloud-focused partners and will serve as subject matter experts to better support network channel managers and partners.

Mike Sapien, principal analyst at Ovum, said in an interview with FierceTelecom that the two major benefits of this program, particularly for small and medium-sized businesses, are having better channel coverage and reach into the smaller SMB customers who in many cases have better relationships with integrators, VARs and resellers, including IT service resellers.

A recent global survey conducted by Ovum revealed that 40 percent of businesses not using the cloud plan to use it in the next year. What SMB customers were looking for from a cloud service partner were solutions that would allow them to bundle services without having to manage on-site equipment.

"The customers wanted email, website and managed communications as one offer and cloud services address this simplicity and removing some of the technology requirements and jargon," Sapien said.

As cloud and data center services become a larger part of Windstream's portfolio, it will do its part to ensure expansion through other indirect sales channels like this program.

Evidence of the influence of the telco's growing presence in the business market was seen in its fourth-quarter 2013 earnings, where revenues rose $4 million sequentially to $920 million. A key piece of the business results were business data and integrated services, which grew more than 3 percent year-over-year to $412 million.

For more:
- see the release

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