Windstream CEO: SD-WAN, UCaaS to Drive Enterprise Market Growth

Windstream sees SD-WAN and UCaaS, bolstered by its acquisitions of EarthLink and Broadview Networks, as essential to its growth in the enterprise market.

Windstream's Tony ThomasTony Thomas, Windstream’s president and CEO, spoke to investors during this week’s J.P. Morgan 45th Annual Technology, Media and Telecom Conference.

“We think being able to couple [UCaaS] with SD-WAN is going to be where this industry heads,” he said. “This is one of the most pivotal moments in communications in terms of how the technology is morphing.”

In late February, Windstream completed its $1.1 billion acquisition of EarthLink. EarthLink was six to nine months ahead of Windstream in terms of SD-WAN, so “we literally took their fantastic front-end portal and we cloned it and just dropped it into the Windstream IT infrastructure,” Thomas said.

“We have a major release going in the month of July where we’ll bring our full set of capabilities of the combined SD-WAN platform together,” he said. “So July’s a big month for us from delivering SD-WAN across the higher Windstream-EarthLink footprint.”{ad}

In April, Windstream signed an agreement to acquire Broadview Networks, the provider of cloud-based UC to SMBs, in an all-cash transaction valued at $227.5 million. Broadview offers a suite of cloud-based services under the OfficeSuite UC brand.

“On OfficeSuite, we look to close the merger with Broadview in Q3 and we want to provide the OfficeSuite (UCaaS) across the entire footprint as quickly as possible,” Thomas said. “So hopefully we can do that very shortly after the close of the merger. The technology itself needs to exist, and frankly then you have to make sure that your support organizations, your sales organizations are capable of making that transition because it is a different solution selling that some of them will have to transition to.”

SD-WAN can replace or work with the MPLS services that enterprises have relied on, he said. SD-WAN is better than MPLS, more resilient and provides the ability to prioritize applications, he said.

“Cloud trends (and) the ability to provide a cloud-based UC product with SD-WAN will reshape how we think about Windstream and it will reshape how we think about the industry in the next few years,” Thomas said.

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