Windstream Wholesale says SD-WAN requires more training for resellers, VAR partners

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Selling wholesale SD-WAN is a bit more complex than traditional T-1 or Ethernet circuits.

As Windstream ramps up its wholesale SD-WAN offering to target value-added resellers (VAR) and other carrier partners, the service provider has a new challenge of being able to educate how these companies can resell the service.

Unlike traditional T-1 or Ethernet circuits, selling wholesale SD-WAN is a bit more complex. This is because to provision an SD-WAN service, the operator not only has to install software and maybe a device at the customer premises, but also must help procure necessary broadband connections. These connections may be supplied by Windstream or another partner provider.

RELATED: Windstream strikes SD-WAN wholesale deal with BCN Telecom, marks new distribution channel

Melissa Cook, vice president of the reseller program for Windstream Wholesale, told FierceTelecom that the advent of wholesale SD-WAN requires a higher touch with wholesale customers.

“It is definitely a deeper partnership than our traditional products, which we have offered for years and our wholesale partners know how to position them with their agents,” Cook said. “We really want to enable our clients with this so we help with them with proof of concept, negotiations, and conducting training with their operations, provisioning and sales teams.”

Cook added that this certification and education process will enable its VAR partners to be more successful in being able to sell the service to business customers.

“This is also about how can you define the value add to that end-user who has maybe not heard of SD-WAN yet,” Cook said. “Our enterprise team has had success with selling multiple location sites, but how can our clients get that 10 location site that may or may not have heard of SD-WAN because it could be an MPLS replacement, an MPLS add-on or a completely new for that 10 site location.”

Resellers tune in

The new wholesale SD-WAN service, which was launched in April, allows reseller partners to manage their networks and remote devices from a single, cloud-based interface, rather than through traditional methods such as routers, firewalls and switches.

Selling a wholesale SD-WAN service is not a large stretch for Windstream, as it can leverage the existing investment its enterprise division has made to deliver it directly to business customers.

“As we have done with other products, and it is usually the case with reselling of products, our enterprise team went out and sold it after developing the gateways and the network,” Cook said. “We’re able to capitalize on the investment that our enterprise and our network teams have done, which enables us to offer a stable product that’s gone through iterations of testing and beta.”    

Windstream Wholesale has reseller partners that are already tuning in to the service. The service provider recently signed a wholesale pact with BCN Telecom, for example.

Being the first Windstream Wholesale reseller partner to execute an SD-WAN agreement, BCN Telecom plans to extend the service to its entire network of agents, enabling them to provide their business customers this solution.

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

“We have had a long relationship with BCN,” Cook said. “We’ve been working with them before rolling out the product in April by getting feedback from them on what target prices we should be looking at.”

Integrating Broadview, SD-WAN

So what’s next for Windstream’s wholesale SD-WAN solution?

While Windstream had been developing its own solutions, it’s hard not to notice the impact the acquisitions of EarthLink and more recently Broadview is having on Windstream’s SD-WAN strategy.

By acquiring EarthLink, which had debuted an SD-WAN product first, Windstream gained a ready-made product suite that included a concierge management feature as well as an established customer base. The ink had barely dried on its EarthLink acquisition when Windstream purchased regional competitive provider Broadview Networks, enhancing the service provider’s unified communications (UC) solutions for small and medium business customers. Besides looking to sign up more resellers like BCN, the service provider is going to integrate the Broadview suite it acquired from Broadview network with SD-WAN for wholesale customers.  

“With the addition of the Broadview acquisition and their base that has the Office Suite has opened up a whole new client base to work with,” Cook said. “As we look to find new Office Suite customers, SD-WAN is a good tie-in to that.”  

Cook added that having a combination of SD-WAN and UCaaS enables it to broaden its reseller targets.

“The SD-WAN and Office Suite product open us up to a new type of reseller that we weren’t working with because we were all about access and network only,” Cook said. “I would love to be the access provider, but now I can offer resellers SD-WAN, Office Suite or both so it’s opening up a lot of new client opportunities.”