Comcast Business enhances customer reach to cloud, data center applications

Comcast Business (NASDAQ: CMCSA) is taking advantage of the growing cloud services trend by launching a new program that it says can provide a more efficient means for businesses to access their cloud services.

Businesses will be able to more flexibly perform processes like data storage and backup, dev/test, collaboration, billing or website hosting.

One of the key challenges that this new initiative hopes to solve is giving customers more on-ramps to cloud applications and data centers. By broadening its access throughout its footprint, this new effort is complementary to the service provider's ongoing fiber network rollout it started in tandem with the debut of its private Ethernet service suite in 2011.

Mike Tighe, Executive Director, Data Services for Comcast Business, told FierceTelecom that their program is designed to help accommodate their customers' desire to be connected to various data centers.

"Our program really takes a look at the key data centers in our footprint, or adjacent to our footprint, and proactively build out to them," Tighe said. "We're in 340 multi-tenant data centers and sometimes it's a customer taking us there and in many cases it's us understanding the dynamics of the data center and building ahead of customer demand." 

The service provider is offering direct connections into major cloud exchanges so customers can pick the cloud provider of their choice. Through this new strategy, the service provider has established private connections with multiple cloud services via Equinix's Cloud Exchange at 10 Gbps, 1 Gbps and sub-gigabit connections.

In addition to Equinix, Comcast has established partnerships with a number of regional data center players throughout its footprint.

"What we find is the data center markets are fragmented," Tighe. "We have some national and international companies, but there's also a lot of strong regional players, including Peak 10."

Tighe added that Comcast Business' data center partnering program is "working not only with the large guys, but working with the folks that have strengths in a region because we often find that a regional level the folks at the strata below Equinix have the best relationships with enterprises in the market."

While not a data center provider itself, providing connectivity into these facilities has been a major priority for Comcast Business. The service provider has extended its fiber network and Ethernet services into over 325 data centers in the United States, including a mix of individual Tier I facilities that local businesses use for data back-up to regional, multi-facility Tier IV providers that offer colocation, managed hosting and cloud services with replication across diverse geographies.

"The demand for Comcast's Ethernet services reflects business customers' desire for direct, on-net access to a variety of data center facilities and cloud services to meet the requirements of businesses of all sizes and across different industries," said Rick Malone, principal at Vertical Systems Group, in a release.

Comcast Business continues to make an impact in the Ethernet services market segment. The service provider moved up two spots to the No. 6 position on Vertical Systems Group's Mid-Year 2014 U.S. Carrier Ethernet Leaderboard and is now the second largest cable MSO in terms of Ethernet services.

In tandem with providing necessary network connections into these facilities, Comcast Business said it is partnering with data center providers in a variety of co-marketing and sales enablement activities as data centers recognize that Comcast Business is a partner in helping them expand their addressable market.

Comcast Business' drive in becoming a connectivity partner with major data center providers is a growing trend in the cloud connectivity industry. By extending its services into more data centers, the service provider can now more effectively compete with a host of incumbent telcos and competitive carriers like AT&T (NYSE: T), Level 3 and Zayo, all of which have been increasing their presence in major data center facilities of Equinix and others while providing direct access to popular cloud providers like Amazon Web Services (AWS) (NASDAQ: AMZN).

For more:
- see the release

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This article was updated on Dec. 2 with additional information from Comcast Business.