Vodafone to play in managed mobile security services

Clement Teo/Ovum

OvumVodafone has signaled its intent to offer managed security services for both large enterprises and SMEs. It wants to do this via a cloud-based consumption model, making it easier for nontechnical SMB users and expert enterprise customers to consume security, with a major focus on mobility.

Vodafone wants to change security consumption behaviors

The British telco set up Vodafone Enterprise Security Services (VESS) as a new business unit this year to simplify how security is consumed by customers. The unit wants to expose the way it has been consuming its own security services to its customers, using mobile security as a starting point. Vodafone sees mobility capabilities as an opportunity and stepping stone because demand is growing for mobility security services – a core Vodafone competence.

Vodafone clearly intends to sidestep head-to-head competition with traditional managed security services providers, such as AT&T, IBM, and SecureWorks, in more comprehensive, standalone managed security services deals, except in cases where there is a broader mobile network service opportunity tied to the managed security service bid. Vodafone’s aim is to then migrate these large customers, over time, to its cloud-based security consumption approach. How Vodafone would manage large customers with existing enterprise security estate and platforms is unclear.

VESS also sees an unfulfilled SMB market opportunity, and believes that non-expert business users would be receptive to a simple, contextualized, embedded, and easy-to-consume security as a service. For instance, users could easily turn security settings up or down via the MyVodafone mobile app, depending on their risk appetites. This could work well in a highly mobile Asian SMB market.

The immediate challenge for VESS is in transitioning from an upfront revenue recognition model to a monthly recurring revenue (MRR) model, based on the cloud consumption model. It will take time for both Vodafone’s and its channel partners’ sales teams to get up to speed on the services’ capabilities and to acclimate themselves to selling MRR services, especially if they were previously commissioned on upfront revenue recognition yardsticks.

While it is still early days for VESS, its approach of creating differentiation through this managed (mobile) security service is interesting. Watch this space.

Clement Teo is principal analyst for IT services at Ovum. For more information, visit www.ovum.com 

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