TIS THE SEASON FOR ALL manner of wireless smartphones and PDAs to find their ways into stockings, and for corporate shopping lists to reflect the rising adoption of wireless applications. As higher-bandwidth networks are deployed, those applications are becoming extensions and enablers of the enterprise as a whole, and as such, packages that include security, integration with LAN applications and management options are at the top of IT department wish lists.
Mobile devices are becoming a core part of enterprise infrastructure, driven by the rapid adoption of wireless e-mail solutions, says Steve Brazier, president and CEO at analyst firm Canalys. This trend has been driven by individual user demand, leaving CIOs with new challenges relating to security, manageability, standards and tariffs.
Enter a new breed of services that addresses just those issues, rolled out via channel partners to help businesses craft a holistic strategy that integrates wireless into the larger business view. iPass Inc. in October launched the iPass Virtual Office, for unifying remote access in the office, at home and on the road available via its reseller partners. The service offers a single interface, the iPassConnect client, for accessing iPass MVNO 3G network, 62,000 Wi-Fi hotspots, dialup connections, cable and DSL. The system takes care of all the complexity in the background, up to and including circuit provisioning where necessary, while the user gets a uniform, seamless experience. The company also launched Device Lockdown, for protection and management of remote and mobile devices.
Wireless and wireline are coming together, and unmanaged enterprise mobility will make for escalating costs a black budget that may not come under the view of IT until its too late, says Joan Fazio, director of product marketing at iPass. Businesses have to treat mobility as part of the bigger picture of how the enterprise works.
Indeed, things have changed from a business perspective. If youre not focused on mobile now, youre not focused on the customer, says Stephen Rowley, vice president of partner sales channels at Sprint Nextel Corp. How you conduct business day in and day out absolutely includes wireless, whether thats enabling mobile X-rays at a hospital or bringing in mobile e-mail. People want mobility to increase revenue, decrease cost or increase customer satisfaction, and channel partners cant help but get involved.
For its part, Sprint has focused on creating packages of wireless strategizing for business customers, which takes into account the business as a whole. In addition to its existing service offerings, it formed a carrier-neutral professional services subsidiary to work on mobility projects for businesses earlier in the year, turning to partners to help take the message to market. Sprint Enterprise Mobility Inc. offers design, implementation and support for customized mobility solutions from a variety of service providers and vendors. It works with channel partners with competencies in hardware, software, handsets, network, development and integration capabilities.
The idea is to fill expertise gaps to tackle major deployments across multiple vendors and operating systems, says Bill Halbert, president at Sprint Enterprise Mobility. Companies often work with multiple providers to meet their specific needs, particularly on a national or global basis. The divisions services, he says, eliminate that complexity.
Organizations have invested in devices, certainly, but not systems, says Halbert. Were finding that now the CIO is feelingpressure to be responsible for all the wireless stuff the company has going on, so the real play is seeing this as part of a total business system that includes the impact on customer care and time to market its the business outcome thats the point, not the fact they have wireless technology in place.
Sprint Enterprise Mobility recommends solutions from Sprint itself, other wireless carriers, systems integrators, device manufacturers and application developers to create tailored mobility solutions based on business needs, such as driving competitive advantages, cost benefits and productivity enhancement. The group also consults on getting enterprises ready for mobile, including establishing or modifying business processes and policies, and changing employee work styles or corporate cultures. Project and program management services offer endto- end management of the delivery process for individual projects and complex business programs.
We are seeing so many customers moving to more of a strategic viewpoint, says Rowley. A lot of partners are ushering to the table and supplying those needs. The person that can bridge all the gaps, tie it into the inventory control or sales management systems, the one who can implement a Web tracking system for devices that will be the successful partner.
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iPass has launched a single user interface for multiple remote connections, whether its mobile, Wi-Fi or wireline.
Never ones to ignore the winds of change, mobility vendors also are eager to give the market what it wants. Nokia is turning up a channel partner program at the first of the year to tackle the need for holistic mobility strategies within businesses (see story below). The Nokia for Business program will take the vendors focus beyond the devices it is best known for, creating an integrated partner ecosystem for those involved in the design, deployment, sale and support areas for security and open mobility solutions. Banking on a channel ecosystem being the missing link in the business mobility value chain, the vendor hopes to unlock wireless true potential by recruiting telephony and network VARs and others.
Nokia anticipated the impending inclusion of wireless IP within the mobility framework when crafting its program. Take something like dual-mode cellular and Wi-Fi, says John Mason, vice president of global channels and operators at Nokia. Those devices can now hook into the corporate infrastructure, or form the basis of vertical applications, which means theres integration and security needed to manage that reality. Its incumbent upon us to give partners competency development opportunities to prepare for this. Customers also are beginning to look for integrated services with wireless and wireline components, and for unified communications that include mobility, all of which translates into a role for partners to wrap it all up with a bow, he adds.
Meanwhile, higher-speed networks like the EV-DO Rev. A upgrades from Sprint and Verizon Wireless, and UMTS buildouts from Cingular Wireless and T-Mobile USA Inc., will broaden the appeal of intensive applications by providing more bandwidth than ever before. The majority of phones are purchased by individuals who use them for both personal and corporate use, says Mason. But as these devices move from being simply a phone to a device for data, that increases the complexity and adds considerations for security, access management and remote monitoring of the device so that is part of the focus for this program.
While these services are perfect fits for large businesses and medium and large enterprises, Rowley notes the SMB space is ripe for targeting as well. That segment is a large focus for us, he says, and its growing very quickly. People are starting new businesses or are looking to expand, and wireless gives them the ability to do that.
Nokia also eventually will move into the SMB space, Mason says. To target that segment requires a scale and a reach we dont have right now, he says. As the partner organization grows, in the future, SMBs will be a priority.
While businesses are getting the gift of management, convergence and efficiency via these programs, partners themselves receive a holiday bonus out of the increasing complexity of the wireless business landscape. Where theres mystery, theres margin, says Mason. Channel partners help take the complexity out of all of this for the customer. They have a big role to play also in showing whats possible when creating solutions with wireless, by providing pilot information, integrating wireless with existing infrastructure and supporting businesses when issues arise. They have the long view.
Nokia Presents Partner Program
Nokias new channel program will go into effect Jan. 1. The program is multitiered, offering authorized and expert partner designations for resellers, who will then buy from authorized distributors.
Each level incorporates three separate technology tracks, for mobility, security and voice. Partners can participate in multiple technology tracks, deepening their core expertise and extending their competencies to new technology areas. While specific product access depends on partner level, technology track, and meeting the related business criteria and certification requirements, it loosely breaks down like this:
Existing channel partners, such as those in the Nokia Security and Mobile Connectivity program, can tap the resources, incentives and additional technologies from the Nokia for Business portfolio if they so choose.
Other program features include:
The completion of Nokia courses is not a prerequisite to attaining certification as resellers can test out to receive certification.
The Nokia program is focused on rewarding partners for their investments in competency development and solution selling. Financial benefits are tied to each partner level and technology track, in recognition of the fact that some markets and technologies are at an early stage of development and require market-making investments.
Nokia will focus its own enterprise solutions sales force on high-touch demand-generation activities geared toward raising the profile and education level about business mobility. Fulfillment will be driven entirely through the channel and operators, to avoid conflict.
Cingular Wireless www.cingular.com
iPass Inc. www.ipass.com
Sprint Nextel Corp. www.sprint.com
T-Mobile USA Inc. www.t-mobile.com
Verizon Wireless www.verizn.com