Cable & Wireless offers integrated hosting package

Just three months after announcing plans to exit the US market, Cable & Wireless PLC this week is rolling out a managed services package that combines hosting, content delivery, security and storage for the price of colocation.

The move is an effort by C&W to keep its services up to date while courting potential buyers for them.

Called Business Ready Hosting, the new service bundles C&W's managed services with basic hosting, and is designed to make it easier for businesses to get all the services they need from a single source, says Jason Weisberger, vice president of product management at C&W. Customers pay for colocation, the cost of which varies depending on customer configuration, and then get the additional services layered on at no extra charge, Weisberger says.

Major carriers are offering service bundles in an effort to curtail retail access line losses to competitors, such as cable companies, and also to wireless substitution. By bundling its services, C&W could be attempting to make them more attractive to potential US buyers by retaining customers, observers note.

"Because of all the expertise C&W has accumulated over the years [with acquisitions of Digital Island and Exodus], we can pull together all these elements of managed services at no additional cost over regular facilities offerings," Weisberger says. "So where customers used to buy rackspace, some power and some bandwidth, now they will just buy Business Ready Hosting."

The package integrates:

* Facilities Hosting, which includes power management and space.

* IP networking and Content Delivery Network Services, meaning customers have access to C&W' Tier 1 IP network, as well as content caching at the network's edge.

* Security services, including managed vulnerability scanning services and content integrity monitoring services.

* Storage, including back-up and restore services that give users up to 35G bytes of back-up capacity a month.

While analysts say the package may appeal to existing customers, they question whether the offering will attract new business since the fate of C&W' US operations are up in the air.

"Why would somebody select them now," asks Laurie McCabe, vice president and practice director at Summit Strategies "I'm not really sure, when they could go with somebody who's stayed the course and really demonstrated that they're in it for the long haul. I'm not really sure why they would go with C&W."

C&W executives in the US, however, continue to stress that they are committed to their customers even as management at C&W headquarters in England weighs options. The company announced in June that in an effort to shore up its bottom line it would exit the US market, where it was losing up to US$1 million a day.

It's still not clear how that exit will take place.

In July, C&W America's CEO Simon Cunningham held a conference call with North American customers in which he said the company would continue to maintain high standards of customer service and would continue to roll out new offerings to illustrate its commitment.

Laurie Probst, vice president of marketing for C&W in the US, says that the carrier has not lost any "major customers" since it announced its exit from the US and that new customers have already indicated an interest in the Business Ready Hosting service.

"Our job here is to remain focused on the business in the US, retain our customers and maintain the value of the business while other people within the organisation look at options for exiting the market," she says.

Business Ready Hosting is available now in C&W data centres in Boston; Chicago; Dallas; Irvine, Calif.; Los Angeles; New Jersey; Santa Clara.; Seattle; and Washington, D.C.

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