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April’s Top 12 Stories: Bankruptcy Galore Featuring Windstream, Sungard AS, Fusion

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You came to Channel Partners in April more frequently than ever before — and most of the time it wasn’t to read about sugar plums and fairy dust.

Bankruptcy was the word of the month, with Sungard AS announcing chapter 11 is in its future, Fusion Connect saying that’s a distinct possibility, and more news about Windstream’s filing emerging.

But hey, it wasn’t all doom and gloom. You were excited to learn whom AT&T selected as the new leader of Partner Solutions. And Colotraq took the next step in its evolution, being acquired by a publicly traded holding company.

It was truly one of the busiest months for news in the channel’s history, including many topics that came to light at the Channel Partners Conference & Expo.

Our countdown is based on both online traffic and results from our weekly newsletter. Have you not signed up for it yet?.

Click through our gallery below to find out which of these stories – or something else – was No. 1!

Missed the previous month’s top stories? Click here to see our most-read posts in March.

Follow executive editor @Craig_Galbraith on Twitter.

Datapipe's Robb Allen
#12 — CenturyLink's New Partner Agreement

CenturyLink aligned all of its partner types under one agreement, with enhancements to address what the company calls the "evolution of the indirect sales channel." Input from the partner community was crucial in the decision-making process.

"Through integration [of CenturyLink and Level 3 Communications] over the last year, we’ve been spending a lot of time working with our partners so it was a very collaborative effort to really try to reach out and understand what was important to both our partners as well as CenturyLink, and we’re really pleased to announce that we’ve largely got most of our partners signed on the new agreement at this point," Garrett Gee, CenturyLink's senior VP of indirect channels and alliances, told Channel Partners in a Q&A that also featured Lisa Miller, president of wholesale, indirect channels and alliances.
Ooma logo
#11 — Verizon's SMB Challenge

Verizon's Catherine Sugarbroad, executive director of SMB product, hit the Channel Partners Conference & Expo keynote stage to debunk some myths about SMBs. One, most aren't a bunch of home-based hobbyists. Two, the majority of SMB startups don't fail.

Sugarbroad keynote at CPLV 19

Verizon's Catherine Sugarbroad at the Channel Partners Conference & Expo.

The whole point is that this one market rife with opportunity for partners, a big reason the carrier created a separate business unit, Verizon Business Markets, to focus on SMBs.

“SMBs want trusted partners,” Sugarbroad told the crowd. “They’re not like enterprise and not like consumer; they’re different animals.”

Get more of Sugarbroad's SMB insights.
Morgan, Jennifer_SAP gallery April 2019
#10 — Colotraq Acquired

Aluf Holdings, a publicly traded holding company announced it's buying Colotraq, the sourcing advisory firm and data-center infrastructure master agency.

The company's founder and CEO, Dany Bouchedid, told us this means more resources and the ability to scale and expand quickly "to meet the challenges of better serving our partners."

Get the full scoop on what this means for the partners with whom Colotraq works.
RapidScale personnel gallery April 2019
#9 — New AT&T Channel Chief

AT&T's Stacey Marx

AT&T's Stacey Marx

Stacey Marx is the new head of AT&T Partner Solutions, the umbrella organization that's home to the carrier's Partner Exchange, Alliance Channel and ACC Business channel programs.

She takes over for Zee Hussain, who moves to another role in AT&T's global business unit.

“Stacey’s proven sales and operational leadership experience will be key to supporting growth and innovation across our third-party distribution channels,” the company said.

Learn why Anne Chow, president of AT&T National Business, said Hussain's contributions have been "integral to growing our indirect channel program's strategy and success."
Morgan, Jennifer_SAP gallery April 2019
#8 — CenturyLink's Year of Job Cuts

Amid a year of "transformation" that included its integration with Level 3 Communications, the network provider it bought in 2017, CenturyLink's number of employees dropped from 52,500 to approximately 45,000 in 2018, according to its annual report.

The company didn't respond directly to specific numbers of cuts, but did acknowledge reducing "redundant positions as a result of the Level 3 acquisition" and a continuation of "optimizing its workforce as a result of transformation initiatives ..."

Learn more about the downsizing at CenturyLink.
Moore, Matt_PGi gallery April 2019
#7 — Channel People on the Move

Our monthly edition of new hires and promotions in the channel featured moves at Comcast, Telarus, Mitel, TBI and more.
Knight, Brandon_Serenova gallery April 2019
#6 — Public Cloud Rankings

The big cloud provider's public clouds are massive, but so is channel interest in who's the biggest and growing the fastest.

This article from February is still getting your attention. We reported that while AWS is still the dominant leader, Microsoft Azure is growing the most quickly and IBM is shifting its priorities. The stats might make you consider who you recommend to customers.
Intelisys personnel gallery April 2019
#5 — SAP Cuts Jobs

Software giant SAP uttered the dreaded word, "restructuring," and with that came thousands of job cuts. In all, we learned 4,400 are losing their jobs, with more than 10% of those in northern California. At the end of 2018, SAP had approximately 96,500 full-time employees, so this is still only about a 5% reduction.

The company told Channel Partners it's "constantly changing to adapt to market and consumer needs."

Read more about the restructuring and how it might affect the company, including the channel, going forward.
Freeden, Marisa_Broadvoice gallery April 2019
#4 — Verizon Copper Retirement

Articles about copper retirement often catch the eyes of our readers – and particularly our weekly newsletter audience – but this one, impacting New Yorkers, had you ogling.

The carrier said it had asked the FCC for permission to retire copper not just in parts of New York (including the Big Apple), but also Pennsylvania and New England. It'll happen by June 28.

The move to fiber in these regions means Verizon no longer will offer services via copper facilities and will cease maintaining them.
Freeden, Marisa_Broadvoice gallery April 2019
#3 — Fusion's Possible Bankruptcy

Now for the bankruptcy-palooza ...

Fusion Connect, the cloud services provider, wrote in its latest SEC filing that filing for bankruptcy is an option if it can't successfully negotiate with its creditors. The company's stock plummeted 82 percent after revealing it failed to make $7 million in loan payments and hadn't filed its annual report on time.

Later in the month we learned investors are filing suit against the company. Then just last week delisting from the stock market seemed likely. No doubt there will be better months ahead for Fusion.
Ecessa personnel gallery April 2019
#2 — Sungard AS' Bankruptcy

Sungard AS took things a step further than Fusion, saying that chapter 11 most certainly is in its future to reduce its nearly $1.3 billion debt by more than two-thirds. It said at the time (April 2) the "pre-packaged" chapter 11 filing would come on or around May 1.

The provider of data-center services, backup and disaster recovery expects through a restructuring process that it will continue to operate in the normal course of business, including “delivering the high levels of service customers expect and making planned investments in [our] fully resilient production and recovery solutions portfolio.”

Learn more about how this could impact the partner community.
EDS Awards White Hat Certified Nets
#1 — Windstream Bankruptcy Updates

We almost ran out of images to represent bankruptcy.

While Windstream first declared chapter 11 protection in February, you were all over a flurry of follow-up stories we did to see how partners might be impacted. The biggest was a Q&A we did with channel chief Curt Allen at the Channel Partners Conference & Expo. He acknowledged that some underperforming partners would be cut, but commissions for those still on the books would increase.

"So we’re able to, for instance, strategic products — all of the partners in the program will get a 5 percent residual increase in that strategic product. So UCaaS, SD-WAN, security — they’ll get 5 percent above their normal residual for that. We’re also extending that to if they have an existing customer with us and they migrate them to SD-WAN, UCaaS, [and/or] CCaaS, they’ll get a 5 percent bump in commissions even on that existing customer. So it allows us to reimagine the program as more like that solutions provider that we are," Allen told us.

We also posted a story featuring interviews with partners on our expo hall floor to get their questions, comments and concerns about not only Windstream's bankruptcy filing, but that of Sungard AS and potentially Fusion Connect. You'll be surprised by some of the responses we got.

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