Verizon and SAP partner for cloud-enabled enterprise managed mobility

Verizon moved to increase its visibility to enterprises as a managed mobility cloud provider by enhancing its mobile applications cloud platform and a partnership with SAP.

Verizon is sending a message that the cloud, mobile applications and the enterprise can all be friends, and that it's the cloud provider to make it happen. 

If you think about enhancements that could come down the line, they would include assurance management.

Lauren Robinette, Principal Analyst, ACG Research

With enterprise cloud and mobility challenges front and center, Verizon announced an enhanced Managed Mobility portfolio that includes better security and additional management capabilities to extend workforce access to mobile enterprise applications housed on-premises or in the cloud via mobile devices, including Apple and Android tablets.

Verizon also expanded its partnership with SAP America to mobile-enable preconfigured usage-based SAP CRM applications for enterprises on a per-user basis. Doubling the sales channels, both Verizon and SAP sales organizations will sell Verizon’s Mobile Services Enablement Platform to customers and prospects. Clearly the sales results that show whether the effort is successful won’t be in for awhile.

Still, the enhancements are a direct hit for Verizon, according to CIMI Corp. president Tom Nolle, whose operator surveys show three main priorities this year—mobility, cloud computing and content. “How the network and the cloud cohabit has become a very meaningful differentiator, which makes Verizon’s announcement critical at a number of levels. It shows that Verizon is going to use the cloud as an uber-brand for any kind of network-delivered service.”

On terms of cloud-aware applications, Nolle said his enterprise surveys show that enterprise IT believes that applications developed for the cloud will perform as much as 40% better than others and will be as much as 70% more economical than a virtualization and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) approach. To that end, Verizon can enable SAP and other mobile applications from an enterprise’s on-premises data center, from Verizon’s Cloud as a Service (CaaS) platform or from a third-party hosting facility.

Verizon offers a variety of ways that enterprises can access the managed mobility services, including via Verizon’s MPLS network for customers with global WANs, via Internet-based IP-VPNs or directly over the Internet, said Verizon manager of cloud strategy Jeff Deacon.

Verizon hasn’t announced any SAP/Managed Mobility sales wins, although enterprise customers are currently testing the new managed mobility enhancements, according to Cliff Cibelli, Verizon manager of managed mobility. Verizon will roll out the capabilities to its own sales force so it can drink its own Kool-Aid, he said.

The progression that makes sense is to first give enterprises mobile access to applications, then make sure that certain applications have higher availability than others, said ACG Research managed services principal analyst Lauren Robinette. “Today’s opportunity is that there is mobile app availability. If you think about enhancements that could come down the line, they would include assurance management, knowing who the person is and what their access priority is,” she said.

Why SAP and Verizon for cloud/managed mobility solutions?

Its recent Terremark acquisition helped expand Verizon’s cloud services capacity to 20 countries and made Verizon into a Platform as a Service player. But why SAP decided to go with Verizon as its first mobile application enablement partner goes beyond Verizon’s cloud clout and directly to the reality of geography, Nolle said.

“Something like 70% of corporate headquarters for enterprises in the U.S. are in Verizon’s territory, and Verizon’s sales force has its greatest value and influence on what goes on in its own territory,” Nolle said. “So if Verizon is already calling on that many corporate customers, that’s a huge asset for SAP.”

In terms of Verizon’s differentiation from the market, most cloud providers have stayed at the transport layer with IaaS offers so far and haven’t played a lot at the application layer, Robinette said.

SAP’s partnership with a cloud and network services provider like Verizon could have interesting ramifications on other software giants, including Oracle and IBM. “SAP may have gotten the jump on its rivals in a very critical way,” Nolle said, “because it didn’t assume it could do its own thing in the cloud in its own time.”

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