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Network service provider Windstream Communications plans to release in August a service for connecting the Windstream SD-WAN to applications running on Microsoft Azure. The product, called SD-WAN Cloud Connect, is designed to provide a reliable connection to public clouds.
Windstream introduced the service in July, with initial support limited to Amazon Web Services. Windstream plans to add support for other cloud providers over time.
Connecting corporate employees to application services running in a public cloud is not a trivial matter. Corporate IT has to know the performance requirements of cloud-based applications and the expected usage patterns to estimate network bandwidth capacity. Engineers also have to identify potential bottlenecks and plan for monitoring network traffic and network connection endpoints after deploying applications in the cloud.
Windstream's virtual edge device
Windstream's latest Cloud Connect service is designed to eliminate some of the hassles of connecting to the public cloud. The service connects through a virtual edge device that communicates with the Windstream SD-WAN Concierge offering, which is a premise-based version of VMware's VeloCloud.
Windstream can deploy the edge device in its data center or on a customer's virtualized server. After installing the software, Windstream activates it and handles all management chores as part of the customer's Windstream SD-WAN service.
Windstream provides an online portal for creating, deploying and managing SD-WAN routing and security policies. The site includes a console for accessing real-time intelligence on link performance.
Windstream's partnership with an SD-WAN vendor is not unique. Many service providers have announced such deals to compete for a share of the fast-growing market. Other alliances include Comcast Business and CenturyLink with Versa Networks; Verizon with Viptela, which is owned by Cisco; and AT&T and Sprint with VeloCloud.
Windstream, which serves mostly small and midsize enterprises, has grown its network service business through acquisition. In January, Windstream announced it would acquire Mass Communications, a New York-based competitive local exchange carrier. In 2017, Windstream completed the acquisitions of Broadview and EarthLink.