Windstream is offering its medium-sized customers, which are typically strapped in terms of IT resources, a new hybrid wireline/wireless business continuity solution that coincides with their ongoing migration to a cloud-based network.
Customers that opt to purchase Windstream’s Diverse Connect can keep their endpoints connected while ensuring performance of mission-critical business functions even in the event of a serious network issue. An outage can drive up costs for a medium-sized business because it can inhibit daily production and potentially revenue.
This solution speaks to the unforeseen side effects medium-sized businesses are seeing as they transition to the cloud.
“The larger enterprises have been historically well prepared to deal with ensuring that that business continuity plan is in place and have diverse last mile access loops,” said JP Gonzalez, senior principal of enterprise access strategy at Windstream Communications, in an interview with FierceTelecom. “As you move down the stack those IT departments are more constrained and you’re running into situations where outages go from being a nuisance to now being a disaster.”
Focus on network diversity, redundancy
Growing uptime issues are driving the need for business continuity services. According to Forrester Consulting, 65% of midmarket companies are challenged by the reliability and resiliency of the links connecting their network.
“It is the Achilles' heel of midmarket customers,” Gonzalez said.
Diverse Connect comes with a 99.999% uptime SLA that protects services from end to end, including the last mile of service from Windstream’s provider service point to a business’ internal network.
To achieve these uptime metrics, Windstream has employed various elements—a continuous power source, diverse CPE, building entry diversity—and it follows diverse access paths that have diverse routes and properties. The service is only offered in Windstream’s Tier 1 and Tier 2 markets, which is where it has diverse transport routes out of the market, meaning a single fiber cut would not affect service.
“You have that end to end protection for the service,” Gonzalez said. “We also make sure to take some precautions to systems flag such that diversity is never collapsed and giving customers visibility into the performance of their network.”
As a hybrid wireline and wireless network implementation, Diverse Connect leverages a mix of fiber, rented facilities from another carrier as well as the broadband wireless assets it previously acquired from Business Only Broadband.
“We do require that one of the loops be on our own network so either using our Windstream fiber or fixed wireless access capability,” Gonzalez said. “The other loop can be a Type 2 service with another provider.”
Healthcare, financial segments see value
The service provider has built a large funnel of customer opportunities with many already signed up to use the new solutions in Windstream’s Tier 1 and Tier 2 markets. While Diverse Connect is applicable to multiple market segments, Windstream is seeing initial uptick from the healthcare and financial communities.
Syracuse, New York-based Crouse Hospital, a provider of child deliveries and a large provider of outpatient surgeries in Central New York, has already adopted the service option. For Crouse, the idea of losing connectivity is not only disruptive but it poses risks to its patients.
Windstream is providing Crouse with a diverse connection with 200 Mbps links that leverages a mix of fixed wireless and wireline connectivity. It also includes dual managed routers with HSRP for seamless failover.
“Financial services and healthcare have a mature thought process around business continuity,” Gonzalez said. “These guys have planned and often have diversity in place so having conversations with them has been easy.”
Gonzalez said that other segments like retail and professional services have been a bit slower to adopt network products like this one, but interest is growing.
“If you look at professional services and retail, they are seeing a growing need for this,” Gonzalez said. “Knowledge workers are spending all of their time either on conference calls or working on applications that are now in the cloud, and it’s a big hit to do any work if you have an outage, so those segments are having a little longer sales cycle.”