Verizon secures large firms' mobile devices

Company launches Managed Mobility Solutions to provide security for mobile devices and mobile expense management for large multinational businesses

Verizon Business on Wednesday announced Managed Mobility Solutions, a new service for large multinational businesses that provides security for mobile devices and mobile expense management.

Verizon officials said the offering is different than those from other carriers such as AT&T since it brings its professional services consulting practice together with mobility management tools from Sybase for security and Quickcomm Software Solutions for expense management.

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The service consists of five modules that can be purchased separately: inventory and expense management; logistics; mobile device management; mobile security and application management. The first four modules roll out Sept. 30 in the U.S. and 19 European countries, with Asia Pacific launching later this year, Verizon said. The fifth, application management, will launch in 2010.

Cliff Cibelli, director of global management solutions for Verizon, said pricing will range from about $3 to $10 per smartphone or other mobile device per year, depending on how many of the modules are used. For example, a company with 10,000 mobile devices under management could spend up to $100,000 a year for the service.

With the Quickcomm tool, a company will be able to track mobile expenses electronically, with every department manager able to receive monthly reports on each worker's usage, including expensive items such as 411 calls, roaming and texting, Cibelli said.

In terms of security, using Sybase software, customers will be able to enforce PIN code access; create policies for locking down handsets and wiping data clean if a device is lost; encrypting devices and data cards used inside other devices; and delivering firewall and antivirus capabilities, Cibelli said. A mobile VPN will be introduced in 2010, he added.

Even though Verizon is a carrier, it will still provide all the new mobility services for multinational companies using scores of different carriers in countries globally. Cibelli said Verizon will be able to expand its business with the 4,500 professional services customers it now has; those customers use some 270,000 devices.

Being a service provider could give Verizon a market advantage, said Carrie MacGillivray, an analyst at IDC - even though the service appears be "on par, not groundbreaking" with the mobility management services from AT&T and systems integrators such as BT Global Services in the U.S., as well as IBM and Hewlett-Packard.

MacGillivray said it will be important for potential customers to compared the mobility management tools offered by Sybase and Quickcomm with the long-term professional services Verizon is offering. Customers will need to be careful to ask how their charges from Verizon are divided between the software tools, which give them tactical capabilities, and the professional services advice that will give them more strategic direction.

Customers considering the Verizon service need to start out slow, with a trial project that can be phased in over time.

MacGillivray said she just completed a research assessment of the mobility management market in the U.S., which remains in its early stages, with about 15 different companies vying for customers.

In 2008, she said the market totaled $185 million in revenues for all 15 players, with 2.4 million mobile devices under management. By 2013, the market will grow to $758 million, with 8.4 million devices under management, MacGillivray added.

One concern she had for companies considering working with Verizon or other carriers who offer mobility services is whether the carriers can be truly agnostic in representing a customer's best interests, since Verizon will be selling certain smartphones that are not the same ones used by the customer.

"How will Verizon deal with supporting phones from Sprint?" she said.

In response, Cibelli said Verizon can give fair services to its mobility services customers who use devices that it does not sell, and pointed to Verizon's professional services work thus far for thousands of customers using a variety of devices.

Sybase may be the biggest beneficiary of the Verizon announcement, since it has a long reputation in mobility management but has not worked directly with a carrier in a similar way to provide its software, MacGillivray said.

Sybase officials said the software offered through Verizon is not exclusive, however, and could be offered by other carriers in the future.

This story, "Verizon secures large firms' mobile devices" was originally published by Computerworld.