Windstream Enterprise bows new, all-encompassing web portal

Windstream Enterprise announced today the launch of its new portal, which was designed to give its mid-sized enterprise customers better visibility into their services.

The new portal, which is called WE Connect, was designed to provide a better user experience with across Windstream Enterprise's SD-WAN, Cloud Security, and OfficeSuite unified communications services and an applications with a "single pane of glass" view.

The WE Connect portal is the result of merging Windstream's previous portal with the ones that it picked up from buying EarthLink and Broadview Networks two years ago, according to Windstream Enterprise CIO Stephen Farkouh.

The WE Connect portal has been in the works for about a year, and it represents a demarcation point for Windstream Enterprise as it moves away from providing legacy services.

"In the context of our overall solution strategy, the portal is the most significant step, among many steps, that we've recently taken as an organization to reposition the business to be much more competitive, much more aligned in the market, and much more aligned to the needs of our customers," said Windstream Enterprise's Joseph Harding, executive vice president and chief marketing officer, in an interview with FierceTelecom. "Our goal is to be very aggressive in our posture towards leveraging next generation technology, and to seek opportunities to be disruptive in the market, and really outpace our competition. The portal is really where it all comes together in the hands of our customers."

Windstream's customers can tap into advanced analytics, customizable dashboards, and applied artificial intelligence and bot technology by using the portal. It allows the customers to personalize the use of their Windstream services based on emerging needs or overall business plans.

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For example, the single-sign on portal allows users to track orders, pay their bills and monitor and configure their SD-WAN services.

Windstream uses VMware's VeleCloud for its SD-WAN offering, but plans to add additional vendors over the coming months. Windstream launched its SD-WAN service in combination with the SD-WAN assets it picked up from the EarthLink deal.

Windstream currently has more than 1,600 customers under contract for its SD-WAN service, which it says is the largest number of customers in the United States, and more than 500,000 Unified Communications-as-a-Service (UCaaS) installs. Windstream made the decision to integrate SD-WAN with its core network and into its core UCaaS platform in order to offer SD-WAN and UCaaS together.

By bringing its services and applications under a single view, Windstream is seeking to eliminate service silos in order to make them easier to use by its customers.

"WE Connect has all of the digital touch points on a single pane of glass so that everything they need is front and center," said Farkouh.

While portals are pretty much table stakes for a lot of SD-WAN vendors, Windstream claims its new portal does more than the competitors' portals.

"One of the differences you'll see between some of the portals that are out there and this one is that oftentimes those other portals are sort of product silos," said Farkouh. "They're not integrated portals that bring together things like SD-WAN and security services."

Farkouh said Windstream used two vendors and one open source component in its new portal, but declined to name them.