Verizon Enterprise chief looks past AT&T, eyes Amazon and Google as rivals

John Stratton discusses prospects of mobile platform to rival iOS and Android, how the cloud is reshaping IT, and more

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As long as you don't go too far away.

Well, that's key. I don't think we'll go horizontally. I think that where we have to think very carefully is how we go vertically. I would suggest that we narrow as we reach the top of the pyramid because we are not, and don't aspire to be, a significant SaaS player. But that's not to say we won't deliver software solutions to the marketplace. But the key is: What is it about that solution that our assets allow us to do in a meaningful, differentiated and sustainable way? If it's something that's pure software, somebody who is faster, more agile and focused single-mindedly on that space can do better than we can. We should let them do it. We should bring them to market with us. We should find a way to partner with that company. If it's an area that we think can be significant and no one has focused on it yet and we see a near-term economic opportunity -- but more than anything else we're trying to start a market -- we can invest for that as well.

But go down the pyramid and think about the physical dimension of a cloud and data center, the [co-location] business. That's an important part of our Terremark business. I believe that if you look at our company in a couple years' time you'll see the strategic cloud computing services being much more important to us than simply the data center colo business, but they're both important, because these assets at scale matter. We almost use cloud as the first line to determine market viability, potentially before we build our own center. And then that drives the expansion plan, and then cybersecurity, of course, a very important practice for us. We think about mobility. But again, an infrastructure play there, a platform orientation where we invite significant third-party development. We become a route to market in many cases, or in other ways enabling independent market creation.

Let's drill into mobility. This is one where our readers are, candidly, struggling. They went from an environment where they dictated what everybody had and used to an environment where everyone's telling them what they're going to have and use. How are you trying to help them get ahead of that challenge?

It's a really interesting area, and I'm smiling a little bit because my orientation on this has changed about 180 degrees in the past 15 months.

You loved BYOD over there at Verizon Wireless.

When you look at our position inside enterprise accounts, we do really, really well. Our market share inside enterprise accounts for Verizon Wireless is significantly higher than our general market share. Corporate customers really value the proposition around quality and reliability and all that goes with that. You might consider that the move to bring-your-own-device would portend the risk that my share [in enterprise] would end up reflecting my general market share. My general market share is pretty good, but it's not as good as it was in corporate. So the first instinct is almost defensive, where you say: "That's a bad thing." You almost want to scare the heck out of your customers -- all the bad things could happen if this crazy set of barbarians is let loose on your business. We see it very, very differently now.

Look, the fact of the matter is the IT estate that's been established and built with all of its controls and all of its security and all of its capital constraints has been massively eclipsed by what consumers are using in their daily lives. Of course, this is what's powering and driving this whole phenomenon. Our job and one of our opportunities now is to help the enterprise manage that phenomenon.

We have a series of capabilities that we deliver, something called enterprise mobility as a service. Think of it as a secure container in which a business can place its mission-critical applications and in a secure way deliver them and then control them. You almost partition the device. We chased this a couple of different ways, and I will tell you, for a little while we were coming up with solutions to problems that had not yet been fully validated, like split billing. Ten years ago someone asked us for split billing, so we started digging in and, of course, billing is one of our competencies. That's not really the issue here. It's really about securing the applications, being able to manage what's there. The ability for someone to partition a device, the ability for someone to then manage in a secure way the delivery of those services, to secure and authenticate the user, which is just as important here. These are things that we are doing. Now I would tell you that our offerings are what I think of as first phase. We have to evolve that portfolio as the market continues to move on us here. But it will intersect with our identity and access management practices from a security perspective.

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