Cbeyond employs BTI's packet optical gear for cloud service venture

Dallas -- Cbeyond (Nasdaq: CBEY), a CLEC targeting mainly SMBs and medium-sized enterprises, chose BTI Systems' Packet Optical Transport System (P-OTS) and Ethernet platforms to power its new fiber-based cloud service initiative, the company announced Monday.

Joe Oesterling, Cbeyond

Oesterling (Image source: Cbeyond)

Already offering its cloud-based services to small to medium sized business (SMB) customers in 14 markets, the Atlanta, Ga.-based provider decided it needed to complement its entrenched copper-based T1 and Ethernet over Copper (EoC) access platforms with higher speed fiber-based access capabilities.

What drove Cbeyond to incorporate fiber into its access delivery diet was the need to provide higher bandwidth connections to their SMB customers to support a larger array of cloud services.

Although definitions of the SMB market vary, for Cbeyond it consists of businesses with 5-200 employees, meaning the "sweet spot" speed falls between 10-100 Mbps.  

"As our focus centered on bringing network and cloud services to SMBs, we needed to increase the number of 10 Mbps connections to our customer base so that we could provide more cloud services, and that's what led us to fiber," said Joe Oesterling, VP, Technology and Operations of Cbeyond, in an interview with FierceTelecom. "With more than 60,000 small to mid-size customers in 14 major markets across the United States, we have a unique customer density that is allowing us to force dark fiber to be built to a number of buildings to provide 10-100 Mbps connectivity services to current customers as well as prospects in those buildings."

To achieve this fiber-based services goal meant that the CLEC had to take a multi-pronged approach: get dark fiber into a building; get a building access agreement; and get the necessary Ethernet and optical network equipment to deliver services to customers.   

Cbeyond has established Indefeasible Right of Use (IRU) agreements with various dark fiber providers, including Zayo and Fiberlight in its 14 U.S. markets to provide what it says is faster access to its cloud services portfolio, including its cloud-based PBX managed voice service, for example.

After testing a number of systems, Cbeyond decided to leverage BTI's BTI 7000 Series and BTI 700 Series P-OTS network systems. Both of these systems are then overseen by BTI's proNX Service Manager, a network management tool that the CLEC BTI says can be integrated into any existing operating environment and can speed up service provisioning times, simplify monitoring and management, and speed time to revenue.

Form a technology point of view, Brett Burgett, VP, Engineering and Planning, Cbeyond, said that what made BTI attractive were three main elements: scale, resiliency, and having an efficient network management system.

"We were looking for something that was cost effective yet highly scalable where you could easily upgrade from a Gig to 10 Gig without any major forklift," he said. "Also, we wanted to be highly resilient because customers aren't tolerant of downtime, especially when you're getting into higher bandwidth applications and you're offering cloud services."

Burgett added that in addition to scale, having a technology partner with an efficient network management system found in the proNX Service Manager that allowed his operations team to simplify how they turn up and resolve service issues.

"As we got into the provisioning layer, we were looking for a vendor whose provisioning and day-to-day operations was going to be highly efficient instead of taking you multiple processes and steps to provision customers or troubleshoot," he said. "When we got down and started looking at the BTI platform in the lab, we were doing complex multiple failover and they were the only vendor to pass all of those tests."

No less important were the business drivers.

Oesterling said what made BTI attractive from a business perspective was their agility and offering systems that fit their SMB pricing mentality.

"What drew our attention was the innovative, flexible and growth-oriented nature of BTI so we thought we were hitching our wagon to somebody who was not only already a leader in this space, but also someone who was willing to be more responsive to a marketplace that continues to evolve," he said. "The second big element from a business perspective was really hitting the value equation."

Oesterling added that one of the big challenges it had in its overall mission to bring enterprise-like services to small businesses was that "a lot of technology partners want to do that but they want to bring big business pricing along with that and that clearly does not work in the mid-sized market."  

For more:
- see the release

Show coverage: COMPTEL 2012: Continuing coverage from Dallas

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