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Verizon and SAP partner on cloud-based mobile enterprise applications

Verizon moved to increase its visibility to enterprises as a cloud provider by announcing a mobile enterprise applications platform and partnership with SAP at Interop 2011.

In a move to increase its rep as a cloud provider while providing enterprises with options that suit their cloud-computing comfort level, Verizon announced enhancements to its Managed Mobility portfolio at Interop 2011 today that enable mobile enterprise applications for smartphones and tablets hosted from the customer’s data center, Verizon’s cloud or a third-party provider.

To emphasize the message that it plans to be a growing force among cloud providers following its Terremark acquisition that expanded its capacity and global coverage, Verizon announced it has the first cloud provider agreement with SAP to deliver on-demand, usage-based CRM software and services via Verizon’s Mobile Services Enablement Platform. The mobile platform will be sold by both Verizon and SAP sales organizations.

Verizon’s Mobile Services Enablement Platform is built on the Sybase Unwired Platform product —which was acquired by SAP in 2010— that enables app development on a wide variety of operating systems, including RIM, Android, Apple and Symbian, and has the back-end connectors to interface with systems like SAP.

“We’re hearing from customers that there’s an opportunity for them to make their workforces more efficient and productive if they can better manage and enable the workforce using enterprise apps on mobile devices, which includes smartphones and now tablets,” said Jeff Deacon, Verizon manager of cloud strategy.

How Verizon differentiates from the cloud provider pack

While other cloud providers have primarily offered services at the transport layer with Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), the SAP partnership and the mobile enterprise application enhancements move Verizon into the application layer, said ACG Research’s managed services principal analyst Lauren Robinette. “I see application availability as the first in a series of moves that can differentiate Verizon. Imagine that assurance management could follow, so enterprises would know who the user is and what their priority should be in terms of access to applications.”

I see application availability as the first in a series of moves that can differentiate Verizon.

Lauren Robinette, principal analyst, ACG Research

With Terremark, Verizon became a Platform as a Service player, “and SAP is a hell of a partner to do that with,” said CIMI Corp. president Tom Nolle. Emphasizing the validity of the Verizon/SAP move, Nolle added that enterprises responding to a recent CIMI Corp. survey said that if an application is developed for the cloud, it will perform as much as 40% better and be as much as 70% more economical than using a traditional virtualization, IaaS approach.

Verizon is currently testing its managed mobility enhancements with customers, as well as rolling out cloud-based mobile applications to its own sales force so it can drink its own Kool-Aid, said Cliff Cibelli, Verizon manager of managed mobility.

“Many enterprises have large SAP installations, and there’s so much data that could be turned into actionable information, but mobility is complicated for our customers,” Cibelli said, adding that a global enterprise can easily do business with a minimum of 10-12 different service providers that have different billing systems and a variety of agreements with device manufacturers.

“We’ve done the integration and given customers the flexibility to choose among different components we offer,” he said. Verizon’s solution includes the network infrastructure and equipment, routers, switches, firewalls, servers and storage in the monthly price.

Verizon increased its cloud footprint with its recent Terremark acquisition and now has cloud capacity in 20 countries. Its Managed Mobility upgrades give enterprises more management and security control for corporate and personal devices, an enterprise application portal that includes user and administrator options, and new antivirus and firewall capabilities to provide enterprise-to-edge security.

“We’ve taken the apps that have traditionally been accessed from the desktop at the office and moved them to a smartphone, tablet or other mobile device,” said Deacon. “But we made the feature functionality flexible enough that customers can mobile-enable SAP through our infrastructure even if it doesn’t live in our data center.”

To learn more about Interop, view our 2011 Interop Las Vegas conference page.

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