Enterprise Small Cells are Measurably Visible Now

August 17, 2015

The study, The Potential for Small Cells Infrastructure-as-a-Service in the U.S., sponsored by Cisco, Intel, and SpiderCloud was published by iGR last week. If you think back, it was not that long ago that Enterprises were not only unaware of Small Cells, but there was little drive to improve mobile services indoors beyond Wi-Fi upgrades. This study clearly illustrates the awareness of Enterprise IT leaders willingness to move to managed services, and the need to enable mobile devices to be fully functional indoors. For those in the Small Cells market for more than a few years, the results shared in the study are phenomenal in that Enterprise awareness of the technology is minimally 50% across the different sized firms responding to the study.

More importantly, the results of Interest in Enterprise Small Cell Solutions as a Managed Service question (page 17) point to a significant amount of Enterprise IT people willing to participate in funding a resolution to their poor indoor mobile coverage and capacity. For firms of 5,000+ employees, 30% are interested, with an additional 40% neutral. If we assume that neutral means “our enterprise could potentially fund this, if the price is right”, the Total Addressable Market of Enterprises who could fully or partially fund their indoor RAN deployment is potentially 70%!

We are seeing the continued acceleration of the move to a mix of managed services as the foundation of Enterprise communications. The willingness of Enterprises to entertain the family of IaaS offerings, as called out in this study, illustrate the shift from just a few short years ago when Enterprise IT leadership wanted to buy, build and run everything inside their data centers. One of the core factors that the study also calls out is the need to provide much direct control and reporting to the enterprise as part of IaaS platforms. From the study: “To an IT manager, the phrase managed solution means that they retain some control, and have a secure environment while benefiting from a solution that reduces IT Overhead and capital expense.”

In the competitive business environment we live in today, IT leaders are being challenged to invest both capital and salary funds into initiatives that yield competitive advantage. For IT services that every corporation must have to operate, they are judged as commodities by most CIO’s compared to vital Line of Business systems such as the Supply Chain environment.

In case you missed it, a few posts we have done on Enterprise mobility trends:

Enjoy the study. It’s great to see that Small Cells have broken through into the thought processes of so many Enterprise IT people who must supply fully functional wireless communications environments to their clamoring employees.

– Art King, SpiderCloud Wireless, Director of Enterprise Services & Technologies

Twitter: @EMobilityInside
Visit our Enterprise IT site @ http://SpiderCloud.com/EInsider


Small Cell Deployment Success Factor (Enterprise): Pre-Sales Coverage Improvement Processes

August 27, 2014

In our two recent posts around operations Operationalize Small Cell Systems for Quicker Adoption by Enterprise Customers and Helping Sales Accelerate Enterprise Small Cell Deployments we discussed transforming business processes to industrialize small cell deployments, and applying the right people at the right times in the overall process.

Where we last left the discussion: the sales force has a branded scalable enterprise small cell product with branded support collateral and the E-RAN Estimation App on their smartphones. In the rest of this blog, we’ll connect the dots (no pun intended Ericsson) of how the estimates generated by the App can be used in a “Pre-Sales Coverage Improvement” process to rapidly provide a scalable small cell system quotation back to the Enterprise IT customer.

Please keep in mind, especially if you’re an engineering reader, that this is an E-RAN radio quantity sizing exercise, not a system engineering or design exercise. Consider the E-RAN app a financial pre-screening process designed to free up engineers from working on indoor improvements until there is an approved project. After the project goes through the screening process, and the enterprise customer signs an order for the system, then an actual project is started that ultimately culminates in a scalable small cell system implementation.

Customer Quote Generation

It is important to note that the E-RAN Estimator App can be used immediately with a back office quote generation processes after installation via e-mail.

It can also be easily integrated into a Customer Relationship Management “CRM” environment. A simple Salesforce.com example is shown below.

Because the SpiderCloud E-RAN system is installed in a building in a limited number of configurations, it is ideally suited to a standardized quote via a CRM process.

Pre-Sales Model (example)

This example is based on assisting a mobile operator to create Pre-Sales Coverage sales framework. Assume this tool would be used with other known customer information to create a one-stop decision making tool to decide on funding of indoor coverage solutions.

The first four pieces of information are provided in collaboration with enterprise IT with the E-RAN Estimator determining the radio count. Installation by customer and use of VLAN are captured to allow the enterprise customer to see the cost difference if they contribute labor and a VLAN towards improving services in the building. The number of accounts and ARPU are sourced direct from the enterprise’s corporate account information in the billing platform. The business outputs are calculated from price lists and normal installation and project cost metrics.

The “required line growth for payback” is E-RAN/LAN amortization/APRU. We have observed that growth is driven by a “friends telling friends” behavior. At the June 2014 LTE World Summit, the CTO of Telecom Austria made the claim that: “We are seeing rebirth of coverage as an Operator differentiator.” Based on our observations of our systems in production, we agree!

On the systems cost, the enterprise could be asked to increase commitment to more mobiles in the contract, extend the contract, or fund some part of system in form of upfront capital, or a monthly expense to insure the operator has ROI on their capital. Assume that the sales team does not want to tell a valued enterprise that is having coverage problems, “NO”. This leaves the “NO” decision to do nothing firmly in control of the enterprise customer if a creative solution cannot be agreed upon.

The other approach we favor is to set the price of the radios such that it’s an “all-inclusive” cost, and bill them that way. This keeps the actual system costs of each site separated so there is not a complex loading of the actual costs into the billing system for each enterprise building, and keeps a handle on internal Opex of billing platform.

In summary, these are a sample of the approaches to providing a repeatable process that our mobile operator’s have implemented, or are considering, to help realize both the velocity possibilities afforded by an E-RAN, and preserve scarce engineering resources for business qualified indoor improvements.

If the reader of this blog is a SpiderCloud customer or channel partner, please contact us if you want to learn more about CRM Integration, the process, origin spreadsheet used in blog or desire a custom seminar conducted with your organization on creating a Pre-Sales environment that fully exploits our EASY-30 process of E-RAN technology and Estimator App.

– Art King, SpiderCloud Wireless, Director of Enterprise Services & Technologies

Twitter: @EMobilityInside
Visit our Enterprise IT site @ http://SpiderCloud.com/EInsider


Enterprise Small Cell Deployment Insights

March 13, 2014

The Do’s & Don’ts of the Enterprise Small Cells Lifecycle

In our work with mobile operators to accelerate small cell systems inside medium to large enterprises, we have learned much over the last five years to create win-win formulas for enterprise IT and our mobile operator customers. It is hard-earned knowledge that only a seasoned executive team could have anticipated and managed by an experienced field team.

So, in the spirit of sharing our knowledge, here are “5 Small Cell System Do’s and Don’ts of Enterprise.”

Do’s

Establish operator brand preference. This is the number one Do as it creates a sales foundation that is tangible and can be talked about to the enterprise IT customer. Branding and stratifying small cells offerings enables customer self service for product selection and easy to understand positioning for the operator’s sales force.

Small Cell Customer Segmentation:

  • Residential: Standalone Femtocell
  • SMB: Enterprise Femtocell
  • Medium-Large Enterprise: SpiderCloud E-RAN

A Normal Operator-Enterprise Conversation:
Customer: “I have very poor indoor coverage or service experience. Can you help?”
Sales Rep: “Let me show you our available offerings.”

Or, for a Sales Rep with no product offering: “Let me file a report and our engineers will look into it…”

Which response do you think creates brand preference from the enterprise IT director?

Empower the pre-sales force.There’s an APP for that” (article quote). The EASY-30 smartphone application enables Sales teams to swiftly identify customer requirements for in-building small cell systems and starts the business approval process at the first point of contact, in response to a customer concern with in-building coverage and capacity.

Imagine the surprise and brand preference that an agile and responsive mobile operator can create when a sales rep is empowered to start the review/approval process immediately.

Leverage existing Ethernet infrastructure. There is nothing more empowering than an enterprise team participating in solving the problems for their internal business customers. A cornerstone of EASY-30 deployment is leveraging the installed enterprise infrastructure (private VLAN) and the facility knowledge of the employees. A winning relationship for something as fundamental as making mobility work everywhere enables other services conversations to be openly received in the future.

Supply chain integration. Small cell systems that can scale, have lower price points and less deployment complexities than traditional in-building DAS, and can be deployed in days vs. months. This expands the total addressable market of enterprise customers that can be cost-justified for coverage and capacity investments. With the EASY-30 lifecycle and simplified operational procedures, mobile operators can use their supply chain to scale up and automate the fulfillment of the inbound requests to address and deploy systems for thousands of enterprise customers per year vs. hundreds.

Enable an eco system of implementation partners. We are on the early side of the small cell lifecycle. Any company who can install an enterprise Wi-Fi system should be able to install a scalable small cell system for medium to large enterprise customers.  The potential “winners” are the incumbent INDOOR cellular contractors that are adding small cells to the installation portfolio. The operator relationship with enterprise IT is directly correlated to the strength of the implementation partner.

Don’ts

Over-Engineering. When you have a Self-Organizing/Self-Optimizing “SON” system like the E-RAN implements, trust it to do the “heavy lifting.” The EASY-30 approach and SON enable the system to configure itself at commissioning time. Adding engineering and planning resources early in the mobile operator learning curve is OK to help RAN engineers build a comfort level, but after trust is built, these additional resources can both slow the process and damage the business case. Unlike DAS, a scalable small cell system with SON does not require a heavy-handed RF engineering approach.

Complicated pricing models. There are two ways mobile operators are currently offering an E-RAN system:

  • Amount of devices and cash flow from the account justify the operator to directly fund the coverage and capacity improvement.
  • Enterprise IT provides the funding for the coverage and capacity improvement.

In cases where enterprise IT provides funding, keep the charging structure simple and straightforward. The benefit to the mobile operator is the ability to create a repeatable and easy-to-understand invoicing process on the billing platform.

Outside of monthly billing, cost recovery can be a monthly lump sum, or per-device line charge over a term.

A simplified pricing structure increases enterprise IT satisfaction with the mobile operator.

Lose sight of longer-term services opportunities. There are a host of possible managed mobile services opportunities available to mobile operators who look beyond basic coverage and capacity. Exact Ventures, in their market study, showed a path to profitable managed services using a small cell system capable of enabling services. Such services examples were also demonstrated by Vodafone, Intel and IBM at Mobile World Congress 2014.

As the blurring of lines between enterprise and mobile operator technologies increase, there are a number of template services that are well suited for mobile operators to provide, that leverages the point of presence inside the enterprise by establishing trust between the operator and the enterprise with improved coverage and capacity.  In-building mobility services are a golden opportunity to strengthen brand preference for mobile operators and the go-to-market partners. See more in this market study.

Underestimate enterprise customers. Enterprise IT people can be your smartest and, yet, your most difficult customers. There are many cost and business pressures in IT that can translate into a win-win for both parties. To enable the move from 80% Capex to 80% Opex in the IT services arena requires a long-term migration in both technology and thinking. Find your smart mobility architects in medium-large enterprises and absorb their vision. In turn, share your vision with them. Goals: create trust in direction and joint collaborative skills.  Move from Dating (SIM’s and Devices) to Marriage (deep services and shared IT relationships).

Hold back channels. Mobile operators cannot fulfill the myriad amount of needs coming from the enterprise IT base. Enabling a set of trusted channel partners to build and implement E-RAN for these buyers is very important. A CTO at a mobile operator was pondering with us the concept of “Bring Your Own Network” where the enterprise buys E-RAN and the operator supplies the transmission link to the mobile core. There are many logistics and operational considerations around shape of ownership model, but even this type of conversation illustrates that we are in the midst of major changes in mindset.  Create, use, and evolve your channels to meet the unmet needs of enterprise IT and enable service opportunities.

While these five Do’s and Don’ts only scratch the surface, the issues beyond small cell technologies are more important in the longer term. As an ex-mobile strategist in a multinational enterprise, I was driving for the emergence of platforms and tools that made the internal cost model better and satisfied our business customers. I assure you, that there are thousands of enterprise mobility people awaiting your call.

– Art King, SpiderCloud Wireless, Director of Enterprise Services & Technologies

Twitter: @EMobilityInside
Visit our Enterprise IT site @ http://SpiderCloud.com/EInsider


A Mobile Enterprise Without Visible Wi-Fi?

February 5, 2014

Over the past 1 & 1/2 years, we have discussed many different dimensions of Wi-Fi, small cells, and user behaviors — with a primary focus on the Enterprise experience. During the past few months we have had a number of meetings that brought to life some interesting questions and challenges.

Mobile operator questions focused on:

  • Is Wi-Fi going to be a fully supported RAN to the mobile operators?
  • Is Wi-Fi a bridge to LTE for mobile operators?
  • Is Wi-Fi destined to be a self-offload tool for residential and enterprise?
  • When will voice over LTE become real (and when will we have international roaming)?
  • What about 3G (voice fall back), we still need it for many years, so what do we do?

Enterprise IT questions (in response) were:

  • “This is not Wi-Fi, right? We don’t want anything from a mobile operator to interfere with our Wi-Fi.” Global IT Director
  • “Where we have control of a building, we want to own all the Wi-Fi, by policy.” Global Wireless Architect
  • “If spectral re-use, enabled by small cells, alleviates LTE spectrum capacity problems, where does Wi-Fi fit?” CTO from a major mobile operator
  • “Why should we invest in operationalizing yet another RAN [Wi-Fi] when there is no clear revenue model?” RAN Engineering Director from a global mobile operator

From our vantage point, the device owners (aka Enterprise) don’t have a stake in the RAN question, as they are seeking something totally different. Device owners want their Quality of Experience “QoE” to be the best available. There is no concern with how the device manufacturers or mobile operator may implement it. Read more about this in a prior blog where topic #1 is “Is Wi-Fi still as relevant to mobile devices by 2015, as it is today?

In the last few years, consumers and enterprise subscribers have been conditioned to self-offload onto Wi-Fi due to lack of “magic” access and software that does not work. Remember, free Wi-Fi is not as ubiquitous as most people believe or claimed (anyone who moves around, or travels knows that). In the enterprise, Wi-Fi may only be available for guests, if your sponsor has granted guest access. In some cases, Enterprise Wi-Fi may exclude employee mobile devices completely. We touched on this hot set of issues in “Turn off Wi-Fi” – Could this be the answer?

Enterprises are starting to position their architectures for outside the firewall access for mobile devices. As this strategy extends to conversion of legacy Wi-Fi architectures, having Wi-Fi as a service, dormant but available in the mobile operator RAN has the ability to allow the mobile operator to be in the running as a managed services provider of a set of common wireless infrastructure services – when the enterprise is ready to have such a conversation (after you build trust with them). This was part of our two part series on Blurring of the lines of networks (enterprise Wi-Fi).

Enterprise IT is all about trust-building (Show me NO MORE money spent on hardware!). To be successful in the enterprise, mobile operators need to understand the IT mindset around customer trust, security policies, and operational concerns. The sales cycle for enterprise in managed services, or doing anything that touches their infrastructure is very different than the arms-length relationship of in selling devices and minutes. The initial 10-point discussion of the business and security concerns were laid out in Warning to enterprise IT departments: Use of a Strap-On may have big consequences. Digest these points and it will save you millions.

What’s our take on the questions raised at the front end?

Mobile device client software will continue to move to being “magic” where the decision on the use of Wi-Fi or LTE will be both more intelligent and automatic. In the case of small cells where the performance bottleneck is not spectrum, staying on LTE will be preferred. Apple and Google will be the leaders in providing solutions to RAN selection that moves us forward from today’s situation.

Wi-Fi as a fully supported RAN to the mobile operators? We think that if this third RAN does not have a clear business case to build, providers like an iPass or Devicescape will satisfy the immediate need. For enterprise installations where a single truck roll is desired, our technology may be deployed with the Wi-Fi infrastructure present, but turned off. This investment positions the mobile operator to ask for the enterprise Wi-Fi business in the future.

Wi-Fi may be a bridge to LTE for mobile operators indoors where backhaul and spectrum are not constrained. A mobile operator who has sufficient capacity to satisfy their customers in most use cases may choose LTE and consider Wi-Fi as a future reserve, or something that device owners manage themselves.

Wi-Fi is a great self-managed tool for residential and enterprise. We device owners are well trained to configure for it. To take it beyond self-managed, the connection automation transparency, owner costs, and consumption rules will need to be clearly addressed over time. The challenge to the mobile industry is self-managed terrestrial Wi-Fi is a sunk cost and provides unlimited usage.

VoLTE becomes real this year for CDMA mobile operators with 3G having a prominent role as the lingua franca for International roaming. The LTE band plans and commonality are being sorted out by the industry and regulators, but the exact solution is not yet clear to us.

3G (voice fall back) will continue to be prominent in thinking and must be supported. For CDMA operators who make a move to exclusively VoLTE, simple bulk switching of traffic from LTE to Wi-Fi is out, and will require VoLTE traffic to be left on LTE.

2014 is a tipping point for how mobile operators think and invest in Wi-Fi as an integrated, not standalone, part of the RAN ecosystem. In no small part, adding Wi-Fi to licensed spectrum small cells (3G/LTE) will be situational and shaped by the overall business strategy, and focus of each mobile operator. Indeed, a Mobile Enterprise must include Wi-Fi to create a best user experience where the 3G/4G Radio Access Network works with Wi-Fi, without user or IT intervention.

No matter what occurs, initiatives such as SpiderCloud’s EASY-30 that help mobile operators create or re-shape indoor coverage and capacity deployment processes will accelerate enterprise small cells to “escape velocity” in 2014. You can read here to learn more about EASY-30 and/or setup your appointment at Mobile World Congress 2014 to meet us in person.

– Art King, SpiderCloud Wireless, Director of Enterprise Services & Technologies

Twitter: @EMobilityInside
Visit our Enterprise IT site @ http://SpiderCloud.com/EInsider


TM Forum’s Digital Disruption, Enterprise Managed Services Concerns

October 22, 2013

The introduction to TM Forum’s Digital Disruption 2013 states that “the digital revolution is disrupting every industry” followed by “creating new possibilities and changing the way business is done”. With those two statements in mind, let’s talk about the critical needs of enterprise customers. Because most customer facing operations are well along in their adaptation to digital, this discussion is focused on enterprise IT.

First, some context. Contracting for external infrastructure and cloud services has a potentially wide range of benefits, scope, and risk. But, the closer the services are to the employees, the more work the candidate service providers have to do to prove themselves to IT leadership. For example, individual developers can autonomously build sandbox and development servers at a cloud provider, but proposing to move critical production workload to the same provider will take longer and involve operations leadership scrutiny, due to internal accountability.

We’ll touch on three major themes below.

Multiple Partners – The difficulty of introducing external partners into the delivery ecosystem is directly dependent on the service itself. If there is a clear boundary, and the service is somewhat self-contained with IT as the consumer, it is relatively easy to add a partner. If the service crosses multiple partners and/or multiple functional silos, there is great risk of what we call “finger pointing”. This is where two different parties claim the other party is having the issue, and no one takes responsibility for resolving the actual problem for the enterprise employee. Build these situations into your plans.

Service & Support – We have experienced service where the basic service is awesome, but the support infrastructure is poor. If the service is delivered to a more forgiving customer like IT, perhaps poor support is tolerable. But, if you expect to deliver to the employees of a medium-large enterprise, the table stakes to open the conversation with IT are: self service, single sign-on, Service Desk e-bonding, an ITIL/ISO-27001 class operations framework, and possibly more. Support is the key differentiator in the service delivery world, as everyone will eventually deliver the basic commodity service. Woe to those who don’t consider service and support.

Open Standards – They are good and enable a basic lowest common denominator. However, as the standards get more sophisticated, interoperability testing is still required to confirm that Open A, works with Open B. In the Telecom universe, most everything is built to 3GPP standards, but still gets rigorous interoperability testing. In the enterprise IT space, there are less tools, expertise, or time to test vendors such that the practical question is “does it work, and can an SLA be tied to the service?”

Finally, it is important to note that above all else, people make services work. Service Level Agreements “SLA” and Contracts are vehicles to measure and enforce. Contracts are the tools of last resort when the partner-partner relationship has broken down due to personal or business conditions. In our opinion, when you have to reach for the contract, the relationship with your service delivery partner is in trouble. It is healthy to maintain cordial and honest communications regardless of stresses. This pays off in the long term, compared to the alternatives because, in most cases, you are bound together for the life of the contract.

Please attend our panel for an engaging discussion:
Delivering Enterprise Services Forum
2:45pm on October 29th
INSPIRED PANEL: Understanding the critical needs of enterprise customers

Art King, SpiderCloud Wireless, Director of Enterprise Services & Technologies
Twitter: @EMobilityInside

Visit our Enterprise IT site http://SpiderCloud.com/EInsider


Blurring the Lines of Networks (Enterprise & Mobile)

March 25, 2013

There is opportunity to adapt to wholesale changes in the enterprise environment due to the increasing capabilities of mobile network infrastructure and devices.

But first, some context:

  • Comment by Banking CIO: “I would buy Wireless LAN from a 3rd party and be comfortable because we don’t extend trust to networks.”
  • Comment by Telecom Security CTO: “The perimeter security model is broken due to how it evolved. Enterprises must focus on selective protection of important business computing platforms.”
  • “For three in four IT security professionals, bring your own device (BYOD) is one of the greatest inhibitors to effective cloud security”. Article: Is BYOD the cloud evangelist’s worst nightmare?

There are two main themes that this surfaces:

  • The notion of trusted networks that end user devices connect to, is no longer valid.
  • Strategies that rely on precision control of end user devices and networks have been defeated by the end user community.

While applications developers, network security, and data center operations teams adapt to this crazy new world where they have lost control of their internal customers, there is an opportunity for the CIO to be positioned to blur the lines between traditional IT and service providers, and benefit both financially and operationally.

To set the stage, imagine in the drawing below that the trust boundary is moved towards the data center(s), and that internal private networks are treated like public networks, but with richer features and additional control.

With this approach, the infrastructure is now open to network services acquisition from mobile operators without the level of security concern that existed in the past. This can be transformational to innovation economics in the enterprise by removing the need for capital funding for every activity on the network, and allowing the acquisition of fully operationalized services as an incremental cost on the monthly device bill, instead of the traditional buy/build/run model where the enterprise is wholly responsible for the service. As IT staff dollars and capital requests for infrastructure get struck from the budget in favor of business software improvements, having the infrastructure be positioned to easily adopt services that blur the lines between the enterprise and their trusted service providers becomes more important than ever.

How does this help Enterprise IT with the BYOD problem?
It levels the playing field by keeping all devices on the outside of the Data Center’s such that the BYOD problem space becomes a Mobile IT issue along with all company issued mobile devices. IT has to solve for secure data and access, once, for all classes of devices. For cloud computing, the data center(s) can securely federate the cloud back-end infrastructure, and the Mobile IT access strategy must accommodate the front-end access method. A solid strategy will provide protection for device resident enterprise data and access, such that mobile devices are not a jump-off point to break into the enterprise from a remote point on the globe.

Recommendation to Enterprise IT Professionals (As a former Enterprise Infrastructure Architect for a global brand)
Consider positioning the IT architecture so when the compelling services are offered to the CIO by service providers, IT can “blur the lines” between infrastructures with less resistance than the current trust boundaries.

The opportunities exist for mobile operators to help address enterprise BYOD and mobility challenges for enterprise IT departments, and cultivate value-added services beyond coverage and capacity in the Enterprise space – built upon strong customer relationships and a proven technical foundation. Positive mindshare and perceptions in the eyes of the enterprise buyers will create invitations to future opportunities.

A new and more important role is emerging for mobile operators, where enterprise mobility and value-added IP services is part of the ‘package.’ Mobile is the heartbeat of any organization, and wireless is the digital oxygen that our devices breathe at home and on the road.

Innovation in mobile, and the increasing need for IT to deal with more mobile requirements, while reducing cost and complexities, and move items from the Capex side to the Opex side of the budget, is blurring the lines between mobile and Enterprise networks, and creating value on both sides.

– Art King, SpiderCloud Wireless, Director of Enterprise Services & Technologies

Twitter: @EMobilityInside
Visit our Enterprise IT site @ http://SpiderCloud.com/EInsider


The Inside Advantage

February 6, 2013

Managed Mobility Services for Enterprise Customers is a $100 Billion Opportunity

We are in the midst of the most rapid mobile network change we have seen in over 15 years. Mobility and the use of licensed spectrum is the digital oxygen that drives productivity – our industry’s equivalent to crude oil deposits. Spectrum reuse and targeted capacity using small cells indoors is rapidly becoming the answer to deal with networks at capacity. So where’s the $100 billion opportunity? It starts with providing a scalable small cell network that can deliver reliable indoor 3G/LTE and Wi-Fi coverage and capacity for enterprise customers, re-capturing vastly under-utilized licensed spectrum indoors and positively impacting on the outdoor macro cellular network.

“Mobility and agile network services for enterprises can give mobile operators an inside advantage”

The enterprise mobility services market opportunity is arising as a result of several key trends: mobility and the need for BYOD policies and control, and cloud computing and the emergence of enterprise small cell systems that go beyond coverage and capacity. In 2013 and beyond, operators have an unrivalled opportunity to move beyond minutes and Megabytes and subsidized devices and become trusted partners to enterprise customers.

As more hardware and Wi-Fi vendors start to offer managed SaaS and WaaS services, so they leave the door open for fixed service providers to do the same. This gives enterprise customers valuable options to curtail CapEx spending. The advantage for the mobile operator is that they can offer a full suite of OpEx-only mobility services with reliable licensed spectrum coverage and capacity using multi-mode small cell systems – and still deliver WasS, SaaS, security and compliance services.

In the market analysis “Enterprise Mobility Services*: Market Opportunity for Mobile Service Providers,” Exact Ventures, an analyst firm focused on technology market intelligence, analyzed the managed mobility services opportunity for businesses of 100 to 4999 employees in United States and the European Union. In leveraging the mobile ecosystem and small cell systems for in-building coverage, capacity and services, operators have the ability to help enterprise customers remove IT challenges with mobility, unified communications, secure access to applications, device management and integration of cloud and telephony, as well as leverage the emergence of new context and localization-based services.

“With enterprise IT teams under constant pressure to do more with less budgets and resources, the opportunity for trusted mobility services is tremendous,” said Greg Collins, principal with Exact Ventures. “Until now, there’s been little reason for enterprises to have a relationship with operators beyond minutes and mobile devices. Small Cell systems that go beyond coverage and capacity can change this model and open up new business models that can help enterprise customers save significantly on CapEx and OpEx.”

“Enterprise IT can save approximately $60 billion between 2014 and 2020”

By outsourcing telecommunications services, enterprises can leverage new in-building mobile services and save up to 35% per year by transitioning from a CapEx to a per-user/month OpEx model –  saving enterprise IT over $60 billion between 2014 and 2020 and allowing finite IT resources to be either re-allocated to focus on differentiation and competitive advantage or for the cost savings to fall to the bottom line.

Enablement of such services starts with the deployment of a multi-access small cell system that includes 3G, LTE and Wi-Fi and can scale beyond a few small cells to deliver reliable mobile services indoors for enterprise customers of any size. To enable managed cloud and application services, a locally deployed controller or services node is required to maintain secure services access to and from any mobile device on the network.


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Mobile operators who start to offer true managed mobility services to the enterprise, starting with basic coverage and capacity, can follow on with services such as BYOD, MDM and PBX Integration, even Wi-Fi as a service. 

Hosted Unified Communications (UC) refers to a set of real-time communications services such as instant messaging, presence information, telephony and video conferencing, as well as non-real-time communication services like e-mail, SMS, voicemail and fax.  UC is not necessarily a single product, but is often a set of products that provides a consistent unified user interface and user experience across multiple devices and media types.

Security: Cloud-based Web Filtering Enterprises increasingly employ cloud-based web filtering as a way to monitor and control website access and usage to enhance productivity and improve security by protecting against malware and spyware.

Mobile Device Management (MDM) entails lifecycle management of both company and employee provided mobile devices to manage and secure enterprise data and access.

Compliance Services Many industries are subject to regulatory record keeping requiring documentation of all communications within an organization. In conjunction with other cloud-based telecommunications services, operators can centralize the collection, storage, and reporting of such data, helping customers relieve costs and adhere to regulatory or best-practice compliance.

Wi-Fi-as-a-Service is the delivery of enterprise-focused services such as secure internal and guest Wi-Fi. Where the operator is already installing small cells with Wi-Fi, it can offer its business customers Wi-Fi access when the opportunity is available.

Context-Aware (or Location-Based) Services can offer enterprises a large array of use cases. The opportunity to leverage the very sophisticated mobile network location capabilities in Small Calls and extend them into the macro network creates unique opportunities to innovate enterprise business systems in ways that have never been easily available.

Enterprise CIOs will start to expect mobility services from their communications partners as part of a longer-term strategy to lower CapEx and improve productivity and business agility.

As we look forward, we are seeing the emergence of a common service network infrastructure where macro, micro and small cells work in close tandem with intelligent physical and virtual routing of access and services. Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) is becoming a reality much faster than expected.

Mobile operators have the opportunity to offer its enterprise customers with a clientless-UC access to mobility, applications and cloud-based services, giving them the inside advantage over any other service provider and building a trusted relationship for years to come.

– Ronny Haraldsvik SVP/CMO


Joanie Wexler @ Mobile Enterprise IT: Considering ‘Mobility as a Service’

December 12, 2012

7 Questions for IT Managers to Ask

Your enterprise is likely going mobile. But if RF matters aren’t your IT department’s forte, and you need to deliver dense cellular coverage and capacity throughout your facility, perhaps you should consider a managed mobility service. But from whom?

The entity perhaps best equipped to help you bring 3G/4G infrastructure indoors – at least on paper – is a mobile network operator. The simple reason is 3G and 4G services use licensed wireless spectrum, and mobile operators have exclusive rights to the spectrum they have licensed. So whatever road you take to get strong cellular signals throughout your building and campus, you must do so with the operator’s blessing, or you face the possibility of paying a fine or being shut down.

All kinds of managed network services from carriers have been around for a long time, from managed router services to network-based firewall services. Why not managed in-building/on-campus cellular services?

Changing Mobility Landscape

Historically, the mobile network operators have tended to focus on consumers, leaving business-class managed network service issues to their wired counterparts. Increasingly, though, as usage trends create greater requirements to bring mobile WAN signal and increased capacity to your premise, new service models are emerging. Many of the mobile operators already offer managed Wi-Fi services. Yet to date, business-specific cell coverage assistance from operators has largely been limited to very large enterprises with deep pockets serving tens of thousands of paying customers that cost-justify the operator’s attention.

Smaller businesses – and even smaller locations of large businesses – haven’t had many options. It’s time to take the operator to task on this matter: there are now more affordable down-scale infrastructure options creating new business model opportunities for carriers that could benefit your company.

Should you look into having a mobile operator assume your on-premises mobility installation and management? When considering outsourcing, in general, most IT departments ask: Do we have capex budget, or prefer to move capex into opex? Do we have the necessary in-house expertise? How will running things ourselves affect the bottom line?

These questions still apply. In addition, here are some must-ask questions about managing your mobile enterprise:

1)    Do we need to deliver better cellular signals in a building or elsewhere on campus? This is a fundamental “needs” question, and part of your answer depends on your policy for supporting mobile WAN users at work. If you do intend to support them, how is your coverage now?

If you’re located near a macro cell tower and have a building made of penetrable materials, you might already have pretty strong coverage. But if you have weak in-building penetration and/or you see your number of mobile WAN users and applications growing, you might want to plan ahead to increase capacity and coverage on your premises.

2)    Do you have a bring-your-own device (BYOD) policy? You might not support certain BYODs on your internal network and/or you might have a mobile app sandboxing strategy to deliver limited access to unmanaged BYODs. So some users will stay on the mobile WAN because they prefer to use the device of their choice, even if it means giving up some access.  Still others will stay on the mobile WAN because some features on certain mobile devices simply don’t work behind the corporate firewall. Either way, you now have a mobile challenge on your hands.

3)    Are you looking to phase out wired desk phones? Robust mobile network coverage and capacity everywhere are necessary for strategies that replace legacy wired phones with devices using mobile WAN, and/or Wi-Fi, as their transport.

4)    Do you have revenue-generating workers, such as a sales force, that insist on using smartphones or tablets, and expect them to work inside your offices? Of course you do. As AT&T has recently reported, up to 80% of all voice and data connections on its network are initiated from inside buildings. Do you want to be the mobile operator inside your enterprise?

5)    Do you have customers or guests who come to your offices or stores expecting wireless access? Your company might even supply mobile applications that these guests use when in your store. If you fit this profile, you need in-building mobile WAN coverage.

6)    What are the comparative costs of enhancing mobile coverage and capacity indoors yourself, versus seeking a managed mobility service solution? This is a biggie, and the answer depends on what you are trying to accomplish. Your goals will drive your equipment and service choices. The primary in-building service choices are traditional distributed antenna systems (DASs), and small-cell technologies such as femtocells and enterprise radio-access networks (E-RANs).

      • DASs are optimized for fairly large facilities. Traditional DAS setups usually run about $2.50 to $5.00 per square foot in capex and labor, depending on your environment and the number of carriers you need to support. The biggest downside of DASs is the lack of signal reuse to support the denser capacities required, as more users (and apps) go mobile.
      • Small-cell technologies are DAS alternatives for smaller locations that address both the affordability issue and the need to accommodate higher densities of users. They reuse the signal repeatedly throughout buildings for greater, more consistent throughput everywhere.
        • Femtocells are the least expensive (about $100 to $200 each). To date, they are limited in the number of users they can support, and have management and roaming limitations when more than one or two are deployed. With more  femtocells, interference occurs and seamless voice mobility is not supported.
        • An E-RAN is a self-organizing network of small access points. It  leverages the existing wired Ethernet network for local backhaul and switching, and the Internet access connection for WAN backhaul. Each node reuses licensed spectrum to create consistent, dense capacity throughout the coverage area. The sweet spot here are buildings with about 50,000 to 500,000  square feet. The cost of the E-RAN alternative averages 25 cents per square-foot – but that’s the capex cost to the mobile operator. You don’t pay for the equipment; just a monthly service fee (opex).

7)    Do you trust your mobile operator to partner with you for mobility, and later, cloud-based applications and services? This is probably the biggest question. It has been traditionally difficult for organizations to get operators’ attention for coverage in 50,000 – 500,000 square-foot buildings. Why trust them now? Well, the onus is on the operator to offer you an in-building system and services in a financially sensible manner. The best way to answer this question is to start asking your operator about the availability of such services, the terms, and the capabilities.

Where Does Wi-Fi Fit?

In the meantime, though, you probably have some Wi-Fi in place. Do the internal Wi-Fi and 3G/4G networks dovetail? How do you stitch the disparate networks together into a cohesive mobile network?

If you have a self-organizing system for mobility indoor cellular services, there might be an advantage to asking the operator – once it has proven itself with cellular – to flip on one extra switch and support your Wi-Fi, too. Carriers are increasingly turning to Wi-Fi offload strategies to alleviate congestion on mobile WANs, and are also starting to integrate their cellular and Wi-Fi network cores at the subscription management and data plane levels. Eventually, your operator could take over the worry of seamlessly transferring your users on and off the “best” available (and least-cost) network service as traffic loads ebb and flow.

On the other hand, the business-class Wi-Fi vendors have spent a decade honing their systems with advanced RF planning, management and security tools. Ask your mobile operator whether those capabilities would be available to help you control your Wi-Fi network the way you prefer, or whether you would have to give some of that up.

Consider, for example, migration strategies from 802.11n to 802.11ac. You’re going to want to eventually dump the 2.4GHz band for exclusive use of the 5GHz band to make use of emerging 802.11ac equipment, which can reach speeds of 1Gbps. Will your mobile network operator have the expertise to help you “band-steer” 5GHz-capable clients into the band, or are you better off turning to established Wi-Fi specialists known to have such capabilities?

Finally, what’s your strategy for indoor mobile voice calls? Do you keep folks on the cellular network? Should you build out your Wi-Fi network for voice support? This can be a costly endeavor: You need very dense coverage and full QoS support on what is an unlicensed network, accessed on a contention basis. Merging your mobile WAN and Wi-Fi networks to operate as a unified system, with the best infrastructure, seamlessly accommodating traffic at any given moment based on conditions, is one approach. The other is to optimize your in-building mobile WAN for voice, while keeping Wi-Fi deployments in place for “free”, and/or overflow data transmissions.

Users Weigh In

The user community has many questions about mobility as a service – that is, trusting a mobile network operator to install and manage on-premises cellular equipment to deliver dense mobile WAN signals and capacity. A partner in a cellular optimization company said he would be more open to mobility as a service from mobile operators for in-building coverage, and for Wi-Fi as well, if the terms were reasonable.

“I would trust them to extend their coverage into our building, provided we had…no additional long-term commitment,” he said. “Many times the carriers ask for a three to five year commitment. Two, I can live with. It would be good to have some form of SLA to ensure compliance.”

The partner continued: “Wi-Fi would be much harder to trust them with. For example…what security can we administer, and what will be [the operator’s] responsibility? Are there service, speed and uptime guarantees? It is appealing to have one less thing to take care of, and scary at the same time. [My] first thought is that the benefits outweigh the risks, provided [there are] acceptable terms and answers to our questions.”

There are also misconceptions to clear up.

One enterprise public safety manager said he would like to understand how extending the cellular signal into a building would impact Phase I and Phase II wireless location discovery for 911 calls. “If they are ‘extending’ an existing antenna that is down the street, your callers may show up as ‘down the street’ if they dial 911. Not good,” he said.

Actually, in-building small cells don’t extend an existing macro network “antenna”; they create new spectrum using small, self-contained base stations and antennas traffic-engineered throughout the building. If managed cohesively by operators as one segment of the overall macro network, as in the case of the E-RAN, the extended coverage and capacity should actually bode well for enhancing 911 location discovery, compared to having spotty in-building coverage, or none at all.

Upshot

Most mobile WAN voice and data calls are initiated indoors. If you need to support mobile WAN users anywhere on your campus, new options are making it possible for carriers to offer you affordable, managed mobility services that require no capex investments on your part. Scalable small cell systems, for reliable indoor coverage and capacity, are available today that were not available just a year ago. Should you trust the mobile operator – who ultimately decides what equipment is allowed to run in its licensed spectrum anyway? The only way to find out is to start asking questions, and test the equipment and the relationship.

– Joanie Wexler, Guest Blogger