Meet Chris Nicolini: Our Data Centers’ Big Data Secret Weapon


Today, Windstream Hosted Solutions’ data center operations include 25 data centers across the country—with plans to open more this year—and a full suite of cloud computing, dedicated hardware, data storage and managed services. Just seven short years ago, with only five lower-tier data centers, no one could have predicted Windstream’s growth in this booming technology space.

It’s clear how rapidly our network of data centers has grown, with strategically positioned facilities located throughout the United States. And in 2012, Windstream was recognized as an emerging player in colocation and managed services in Info-Tech Research Group’s Vendor Landscape: U.S. Co-Location/Managed Services report, so we’ve become quite a formidable force.

From shared colocation facilities to Tier 3, state-of-the-art, enterprise-class facilities, our impressive footprint is opening new doors for our customers and us. Given the skyrocketing growth, we wanted to get the inside story from Chris Nicolini, senior vice president of data center operations (and big data secret weapon) with Windstream Hosted Solutions.

Q: Tell us about life before Windstream, and how you ended up here.

I was born in Detroit and raised in Georgia and South Carolina. I graduated from West Point and spent six years serving in the Army. After working in auto manufacturing for a few years, I got into hosting with a company called Inflow—which was acquired by SunGard in 2005. I continued working for SunGard, running a large part of its operations, until I left in 2011 to join Windstream Hosted Solutions, and so here I am, proud to be part of such a fantastic team.

Q: What is it about Windstream Hosted Solutions that sets it apart from its competitors?

Without a doubt, our biggest point of differentiation is our brand promise of "smart solutions, personalized service." With other providers, the solutions are typically cookie cutter—what you see is what you get. At Windstream, our team sits down with customers from the very beginning to get a clear understanding of their specific business needs and how we can help. With our relationship building and ongoing support through the cloud and managed services implementation process—which, by the way, is much faster with us—our customers have come to view us as part of their internal teams. We’re proud of the way we work with our customers; we take those relationships personally.

In addition, our ability to provide a complete set of integrated services has proven to be of significant benefit to our customers. It’s the combination of our managed and dedicated hosting solutions and Windstream’s full suite of advanced network communications and technology solutions—including voice and data services such as VoIP, SIP trunking, MPLS, and dedicated high-speed Internet. Customers appreciate that they can get everything they need from a single service provider.

Q: Tell us about Windstream’s plans for data center services, and what trends are you seeing in the industry as a whole?

Windstream Hosted Solutions is expanding its data center business, not only geographically through the addition of new facilities, but also through our product portfolio. We’re working to make our cloud computing solutions even more customizable for customers. We’re giving customers more hands-on power to control their cloud provisioning assets—and doing so through a user-friendly interface that will make it easy for any customer to access and manage their cloud.

In general, the need for cloud computing power is increasing across all industries. As the demand for the cloud is growing by leaps and bounds, so is the demand for data centers—all of that data needs to live somewhere! Last year, Dave Turek, a supercomputer developer from IBM, estimated that the amount of data the world was generating in two days was the same as that created from the beginning of mankind through 2003. Turek also predicted that by 2013, we’d all be generating that amount of data every 10 minutes. Those are pretty powerful statistics, and that growth is not going to slow down. The need for data centers will continue to grow just as much.

We have a lot of exciting plans on the horizon at Windstream Hosted Solutions. We’ve come so far within the last seven years, and we can’t wait to see our strategic vision for the next seven years come to life.

To learn more about data centers and data center services, connect with a trusted Windstream advisor