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


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


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