NaviSite’s Cloud-Mobile Convergence

NaviSite, a well-established cloud, hosting provider, illustrates the relentless tug of IT providers into the Mobile Cloud Era.

NaviSite was one of a number of independent companies that merged out – acquired by TimeWarner Cable – in the acquisition deal binge of cloud/hosting/data center companies that occurred in late 2010-early 2011 (Verizon’s acquisition of Terremark being the largest.)

In July the company demonstrated its move into the mobile cloud by announcing that it is now offering a wide range of Enterprise Mobile Management (EMM) services.

Sumeet Sabharwal, General Manager of NaviSite (TimeWarner Cable’s subsidiary) describes a three-phase evolution that has led the company squarely into the Mobile Cloud Era. In phase one NaviSite basically provided IT services, “taking the hassle of IT away,” as Sabharwal puts it and putting assets into the company’s datacenter.

In the second phase, they virtualized the assets, making IT flexible, speeding time to market and cutting costs. Now they are in the third phase, which is focused “not just on the backend.” They are providing benefits to the end user directly, moving to the edge.

A key part of their expansion in the last couple years has been built around Desktop as a Service (DaaS.) He refers to the desktop as the “last bastion of change.” They have partnered with Desktone, (acquired by VMware in October 2013.)

The move beyond DaaS, to mobile management capabilities, is driven, according to Sabharwal, by the desire to manage the user experience on a unified basis across different devices. NaviSite plans to offer management of all aspects – data, devices, apps – MDM, MAM, content mgt, mobile workspace, secure separation of personal and corporate, including strong compliance control (e.g., for HIPAA), encryption, log mgt, etc.

Sabharwal asserts that the EMM capabilities will bring to the company’s existing unified suite of enterprise messaging and collaboration added services with mobile app wrapping. Their EMM solution uses technology from VMware’s Airwatch.

The key value adding element of NaviSite appears to be creating a seamless, customer specific integration of a technically robust MDM, MAM based on Airwatch, and fitting it into a suite of cloud hosting services, in a way that better meets the enterprise customers’ overall QOS, security, cost and performance objectives. These integrations could be very valuable as they could result in an experiential base of learning, perhaps even unique approaches and associated methodologies if not, API’s, transcodes and software which may provide scalabilities not uncovered as yet.

Sabharwal emphasizes that after 12 years of providing messaging and collaboration, the company’s move into mobile has been driven by customer demand. While not providing any numbers, he states that NaviSite has committed “considerable resources” to this initiative and that he believes that enlisting support from the enterprise app developer community will be key to their growth.

Pricing for their services start at $7.50 per device per month for a core service: with $11 per month with mobile content management features and secure storage; and $17 per month for a complete service.

One interesting aspect of the NaviSite progression into mobile relates to the comparison to their partner VMware’s own initiatives. We covered VMware as a major champion of the Mobile Cloud earlier this year (“VMware: Implementing The Mobile Cloud Vision” 1/5/14, and followup articles, 1/26/14 and 1/28/14).

After its acquisition of Airwatch, VMware announced that they would integrate AirWatch with their Horizon DaaS. As a key VMware executive stated, “Customers want to transform their applications and enterprise desktops for the Mobile Cloud Era — extending access to employees on any device, from anywhere via a comprehensive solution that is simple, secure and cost effective.”

So NaviSite is following down a similar road as their supplier, VMware (among others.) This does not mean that their efforts will be identical or will be perceived as such in the marketplace. VMware obviously has powerful technical relationships with enterprise IT establishments. However, NaviSite brings the perspectives of a hosting and managed service provider.

Beyond the area of direct competition, looms the question of whether NaviSite parent, TWC, will be acquired by Comcast, and, if so, what the implications will be for NaviSite.

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Photo: By Gail, [CC BY-ND 2.0], at Flickr