What’s black and red and not a telco anymore? Verizon Business — at least according to Francis Shammo, president of the telecom and enterprise arm of Verizon.
“We are not a telco. I don’t even know what a telco is anymore. We are a solutions provider,” Shammo said last week at the company’s industry analyst forum in New Jersey. The future of his organization is in services — specifically, cloud computing and professional services — not in selling pure connectivity.
These are bold statements to make to a room full of long-time Verizon watchers; it may also seem strange, coming from a company which manages almost enough miles fiber to reach the moon.But beyond just talk, Shammo’s proof points include some impressive customer services wins, such as with JetBlue (Verizon runs the airlines IT and call center operations). A backup/off-site storage as-a-service offering, announced in conjunction with IBM this week, also shows Verizon Businesses’ cloud/services aspirations.
The company’s cloud/services transformation also appears to be deeper than press releases and partnerships, however. Among the things Verizon Business is doing right now are:
• Cloud & services training: Technical teams are being trained from the nuts-and-bolts of server virtualization and data center management, to integrate cloud into OSS/BSS, customer service and provisioning workflows.
• Cloud fluency: the company is schooling its marketing teams on cloud a vernacular which actually means something — not a global search-and-replace of “cloud” for “hosting” or “services” throughout its marketing literature and materials.
• Sales transformation: The company is adamant to become more solutions-focused, it says. This involves changing the fundamental approach of its sales team (from T-1/private IP network sales to solutions). To that end, significant retraining, and turnover of almost a fifth of its force, is already underway.
• Data center transformation: Verizon plans on replacing or upgrading infrastructure in over 200 data centers to support the virtualized underpinnings of its Compute as a Service (CaaS) offering.
With all the money and hype spent by Google and Microsoft on their cloud build-outs, Shammo says, you might think only two data centers will be around in the near future. “I happen to say there will be three,” he says. However, beccause of its network assets, or “crown jewel” as Shammo puts it, enterprises moving to the cloud will come to Verizon for greater levels of security, connectivity options and service guarantees.
These sound like the kind of attributes enterprises expect from, say, a telco? Maybe you don’t want to drop that old description of your business too fast, Mr. Shammo.