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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I just want to make sure that I understand. Just real quickly, if you got in that classic elevator scenario with a CIO, in one sentence you'd say -- we can help you better with this mobility challenge because ...?

Because our deep knowledge of how mobile networks work and our deep experience in what are the most significant security risks for you as you liberate the data, and our ability to assist you as you evolve your compute platform, that combination of things is what best qualifies us to help you through this series of steps that you need to take.

Today it's largely an iOS and Android world. Do you expect a third or fourth strong platform to emerge?

We're trying. We'd certainly like to see at least a third player. And it is yet to be determined if it will occur. We are aggressively supporting Microsoft and [BlackBerry], because those are the next two obvious guys. There are some other clouds on the horizon that may or may not come about, some different things that some of the OEMs are trying to do, but timing is tough. The next guy to break through after iOS -- i.e., Android -- there was a clear and obvious path into the market. We helped them with that because we didn't carry the Apple product at the time. So for me, as a matter of being able to compete effectively in the smart phone space, I needed it. [BlackBerry] had that opportunity. They were under the tent already. We were their largest seller in the world. I think [BlackBerry's] new OS is very good. I have a very large, really loyal base in the enterprise business, government, financial service, anywhere where data encryption and data security is important.

There's no love for Android in the enterprise.

You're right. If you think about it, Microsoft or [BlackBerry], either should have a natural path in. But the question is whether the inertia problem going to be too much for them to overcome. This body is definitely in motion. Android is tough. The guys at Google would say it's not really fragmented, but if you look at it from an enterprise perspective, it is challenging. And it's a proposition that is sort of tough for IT professionals to get comfortable with. iOS is much more monolithic, but they bring their own problems. Neither Google nor Apple is incredibly focused on the enterprise market. That leaves the door open. I think [BlackBerry] is certainly able to exploit that if they can, and will. We're very much behind the first device they're going to ship this summer. I think the qwerty keyboard, the physical keyboard device, is pretty important for them.

People still love that.

They really do. I think you'll see a strong thrust, but the market is going to determine successors here.

Let's turn to cloud. I want people to understand what you view as your competitive strengths in cloud. What makes Verizon a great cloud company?

The market that we focus on first and foremost is large enterprise and the public sector. These are two very, very important parts. Our understanding of most of those markets is pretty significant. We know what is required in terms of resiliency, scalability, consistent quality of delivery. There are many great companies that are innovating in the cloud space, but what we've seen is the market has really developed around small and medium enterprise. At last look we saw about 70-plus percent of the market that had been established is in that space and principally in North America, really, really deep in North America. Additionally, [there are] buyers that look like medium enterprise but are actually a very large enterprise. This is where you see what's been called shadow IT.

But it's just a line of business. It's, "I need to do something and do it fast. I can't take the 12 months it's going to take me if I go through standard process of spinning up the server. I'm just going to go and do this." We look at Amazon as the guys that shot out ahead in this space. They've done some very good things in terms of building out their ecosystem, their tools. Their on-boarding model is a very frictionless approach and it has provided them great success. They've illustrated to the marketplace a new paradigm, which I think is very important.

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