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Top 12 Stories in February: CenturyLink-Level 3, Windstream, RingCentral, 8×8

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February — a month for love, groundhogs, honoring our presidents and much more.

In the channel, February was chock full of big happenings and things that, well, didn’t happen. Take Windstream’s new enterprise and wholesale brands, for instance — the company almost rebranded entirely, but didn’t.

Speaking of branding, you’ll find two stories on our list from the BridgePointe Technologies event in San Francisco, but neither directly related to the master agent. First, UC vendors had a lively discussion on whether Microsoft, Slack and others are a threat to their businesses. Then, CenturyLink co-channel chief John DeLozier felt the need to put rumors about the Level 3 integration to rest.

If you don’t telecommute and your company has a water cooler, these no doubt were conversation starters in your business’ kitchenette. Which was No. 1? Click through our gallery below to find out!

Our rankings are an aggregate of online page views and our weekly newsletter results. (You can sign up for that here.)

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

Follow executive editor @Craig_Galbraith on Twitter.

Datapipe's Robb Allen
#12 — Windstream Stops Short of Renaming Business

Windstream unveiled new brands for its enterprise and wholesale businesses ... wait for it ... they're called Windstream Enterprise and Windstream Wholesale. But that's not what caught your attention.

Joe Harding, executive VP and chief marketing officer, acknowledged that they actually considered renaming the whole company — but stopped short.

Harding said changing the name of the company was “actually actively considered, but there [are] a handful of reasons we decided not to — cost was one.”

Click here for the full story.
Aeris' Syed Zeeam Hosain
#11 — Is Slack a Threat?

Slack, the popular collaboration app, could be cutting into UC market share. That report from Reuters was a hot topic at last month's Bridgepointe rebranding event in San Francisco.

Scott Sampson, SVP of midmarket and enterprise for 8x8, told the partner audience that he views collaboration tools from Slack, Microsoft and others as "complementary."

“What I tell my team is that when you see people like Amazon and Slack and others getting into the market — between UCaaS and CCaaS, it’s a $50 billion market," Sampson said. "All it does is validates the massive opportunity for 8×8 and for the other colleagues on the panel."

Read what those other panelists had to say.
eSentire's Kerry Bailey
HPE's Antonio Neri

HPE's Antonio Neri

#10 — Whitman Steps Aside at HPE

Three months after announcing she would be stepping away from the big chair, Meg Whitman did just that on Feb. 1. Antonio Neri (pictured right), a longtime HP veteran, called the CEO position at HPE his "dream job."

"My commitment for the upcoming period is to focus mainly on three areas: culture, innovation, and our customers and partners," he wrote in a blog. "While we already do a good job in these areas, I want to bring an even stronger focus to help us push our company forward,” he said.

Read the full story here.
AireSpring Personnel
#9 — Big M&A Update

Our recurring M&A update was again popular. You were able to catch up on the hot new mergers and acquisitions announced in January, as well as the key updates on those previously announced.

Featured in this edition were Windstream, Star2Star and Avaya.
Raleigh, NC
#8 — RingCentral Pursues Avaya, Cisco Customers

It's on! RingCentral channel chief Zane Long raised eyebrows in a Q&A with us when he said his company would go after "national partners" that are legacy Cisco, Avaya and ShoreTel-Mitel resellers.

"All of these partners are looking for and obviously adopting to the new world, and that new world is without a doubt UCaaS," he told Channel Partners.

Long covered a variety of topics in our sit-down.
Raleigh, NC
#7 — Channel People on the Move

Our monthly list of new hires and promotions in the channel was a big one. We simply didn't have room to feature all of those sent to us or run on our website in January, but we still managed to squeeze in 23.

This edition featured moves at TBI, TPx, Avaya, Windstream, CenturyLink and many more.
Cloud Fax
#6 — AT&T to Sell Data Centers?

We reported on the latest chatter surrounding a communications giant potentially selling off its data centers.

Perhaps following the lead of Verizon, CenturyLink, Windstream and others, a source told the Wall Street Journal that AT&T might be next in line, having discussions with Bank of America about possibly unloading data centers in a deal that could fetch $1 billion.

On its website, AT&T lists 26 North American data centers and 57 worldwide.
HyperGrid's Mark Mitchell
#5 — Channel Drama

We did a roundup of channel smack talk, layoffs, criminal charges and more that have had the industry talking over the past several months. We dubbed it "Conflict and Controversy: Creating Channel Buzz" — and did it ever.

The collection of stories featured happenings at AT&T, CenturyLink, Windstream and more.
Splunk's Brooke Cunningham
#4 — ConnectWise Co-Founder's Arrest, Release

We learned that ConnectWise co-founder David Bellini was arrested on charges of trafficking illegal drugs. A judge threw out the case after the arresting officer allegedly reported the details of the arrest incorrectly.

Click here for the full story.
Splunk's Brooke Cunningham
#3 — AT&T Layoffs

For the second month in a row, a story we posted right after the first of the year is still going strong.

AT&T announced that 2018 would be a year of growth and investment, but layoffs would happen. While the carrier didn't give a specific number, the Communications Workers of America said it was in the thousands. Other sources put the number in the hundreds. It came as a surprise because just weeks earlier AT&T said it would give employees holiday bonuses of $1,000 thanks to the new tax-cut law.
HyperGrid's Mark Mitchell
#2 — Many IoT Devices 'Pretty Easy' to Hack

It's an important read for any partners that have started to dabble in the Internet of Things.

In a preview of his education session at the upcoming Channel Partners Conference & Expo, Aeris' Syed Zaeem Hosain expressed concerns that a number of malicious IoT-related hacks are possible.

"If you look at the connected car and IoT devices, you might see a malware attack that basically tells the driver of the car, 'Pay me money or I won't start it for you.' This would be another wake-up call for the industry," he said.

Read more of his enlightening comments here.
Green Cloud's Keith Coker
#1 — CenturyLink Quashes Unsavory Level 3 Integration Rumors

Don't know if CenturyLink co-channel chief John DeLozier expected this much reaction to some reassuring statements he made at the Bridgepointe rebranding event in San Francisco.

Addressing rumors that CenturyLink partners will have to adopt new rules of engagement and potentially lose out to direct sales, DeLozier adamantly said, "None of this is true."

DeLozier further said that the $34 billion acquisition has "put the right resources in place" for CenturyLink's partners. He added that there will continue to be scenarios where partners will rely on CenturyLink's direct reps, but that the company is happy to see partners stand on their own strengths.

“We’ll channel-integrate when and where it makes sense,” he said. “I think it’s terrific, but we won’t do it just to do it. We won’t do it because one of our people shows up with a badge and says, ‘Get the partner out of here.’ We won’t do that. In fact, that person will lose their job.”

Read the full article on our No. 1 story of the month.

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