Almost every service provider in the country that caters to businesses offers managed services

Allstream, the national business arm of Manitoba Telecom Services, is no exception. This week it continued to expand its offerings by announcing a managed WAN optimization service based on Steelhead appliances from Riverbed Technology.

The carrier will design a solution for each customers, install the appliance on site and then do the remote “care and feeding of it,” said Mike Berry, Allstream’s senior product manager for managed network services.

“We also have what we feel is a differentiator for us – what we call a quarterly report and discussion with the customer or periodic health check and make sure everything is the best it can be.” Weekly performance reports will also be emailed to customers.

Initially the service will be pitched at Allstream’s MPLS (multiprotocol label switching) customers, who Berry said have been asking for several years for this capability.

But he noted that a recent new MPLS customer specifically asked for WAN optimization.

Typically these are enterprise or large medium-sized corporations, some of whom are retailers with many branches.

“The reason is they don’t want to do it themselves,” he said. “In some cases they don’t have a lot of expertise in their back yard on how to make the Riverbed sing, so they would like to buy it at a service.”

Pricing will depend on the customer’s needs, he said.

National competitors like BCE Inc.’s Bell Canada and Telus Corp. already offer managed WAN optimization service, Berry acknowledged. But he believes Allstream will market it be more aggressively.

Other managed services Allstream offers includes network and security services, unified communications and infrastructure as a service.

WAN optimization takes unnecessary traffic of a network through de-duplication and compression, Berry said. Typically bandwidth will be reduced 60 to 90 per cent from a non-optimized network.