Windstream serves up wholesale SD-WAN solution, expands reseller program

Windstream Business
By offering its still relatively new SD-WAN service to the reseller community, Windstream can further its credibility and customer reach in the midsize and large enterprise market that has been long dominated by traditional telcos.

Windstream has launched a wholesale SD-WAN platform as part of its wholesale division revamp, extending the emerging service aimed at the needs of the reseller community.

By offering its still relatively new SD-WAN service to the reseller community, Windstream can further its credibility and customer reach in the midsize and large enterprise market that has long been dominated by traditional telcos.

Leveraging Windstream’s interface, resellers can optimize performance of end-user applications or value-added services, including unified communications as a service, firewall or content filters. This allows for what it says is a fully integrated service portfolio and improved customer experience, and offering increased reseller revenue opportunities.

RELATED: Windstream enters the SD-WAN race, sets focus on network simplification

“By leveraging the reach of the Internet, Windstream Wholesale’s SD-WAN solution combines end-user locations and services through an easy-to-use interface, eliminates the need for manual monitoring and allows our resellers to deliver a fully managed solution to their customers,” said Jeff Brown, director of product management and marketing for Windstream’s Wholesale business unit, in a release.

Enabling SD-WAN options

Reseller partners can leverage two main connectivity options for SD-WAN: augmenting MPLS with higher bandwidth access solutions or replacing MPLS outright or reducing costs for aggregated high-speed Internet access at the data center.

But speeds and feeds are only one part of Windstream’s SD-WAN offering for resellers. The new offering includes various management and provisioning capabilities.

A management tool offers resellers visibility and control in a single interface, including zero touch configuration for new locations, services and end-user security policies, as well as centralized administration and activation options for remote branches.

Resellers can also gain application visibility and control with the ability to immediately view and prioritize application network traffic, from mission-critical business apps to blocking or reducing impact of nonbusiness applications. Windstream’s BusinessAware CloudNetwork enables dynamic traffic steering in real time to ensure application performance.

The service also plays into the application mindset of resellers. Windstream’s Cloud Core Network Architecture has been built to improve cloud-based application performance with diverse, secure, low-latency connections to cloud providers as well as Windstream-provided services. Control and analysis of network conditions provide performance from branch to branch, branch to data centers, and branch to cloud.

Finally, a set of real-time analytics provides insights into network and application performance and allows proactive remediation or resolution of bandwidth or cloud access challenges.

Windstream came to the SD-WAN game a bit later than some of its competitors like EarthLink, which it acquired earlier this year, but sees growing potential in the emerging segment.

Tony Thomas, CEO of Windstream, told investors during the fourth-quarter earnings call that its acquisition of EarthLink will enable it to provide a more comprehensive SD-WAN offering for business and reseller customers.

“When I look at the kind of combination of the SD-WAN portfolios of our two companies, they are significantly improved by putting these two companies together,” Thomas said during the earnings call, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript. “We’re putting a lot more investment into SD-WAN on a combined basis and I think there will be opportunity.”

Enhancing wholesale

While targeting resellers with this emerging service will strengthen Windstream’s bond with the reseller community, the wholesale SD-WAN service is another way Windstream can enhance its wholesale channel, one that has been in flux in recent quarters. As more of its traditional carrier customer base, particularly wireless operators, have been migrating from TDM to IP, the service provider has been struggling to return the wholesale segment to profitability.

Windstream won’t report its first-quarter earnings until May 4, but in the fourth quarter the service provider reported that wholesale service revenues were $153 million, down 11% year over year. For the year, wholesale revenues were $631 million, a decline of 8% from 2015. 

“The segment continues to experience revenue pressure from certain declines in legacy services, which we are offsetting in part with growth products such as Ethernet and Wave sales as well as with sales to new customer verticals,” said Bob Gunderman, CFO of Windstream, during the fourth-quarter earnings call.

To counteract the revenue challenges, Windstream is developing new products like SD-WAN for resellers and targeting other customer verticals like content providers. At the same time, the service provider has been enhancing its metro and long-haul fiber routes.

“With strategic fiber routes in the Southeast and Northeast and the expansion of our long-haul express network throughout the Western U.S., we expect increased sales opportunities,” Thomas said.