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Verivo launches Akula, a mobile app platform that frees enterprise developers from worrying about security
by Michael Carney
Building software to that delivers crave-worthy experiences on mobile and building software that caters to the security and scalability needs of enterprise customers are two entirely different skill sets. And very often companies that are good at one fail to deliver on the other. Enterprise mobility company Verivo is looking to divorce the two with the launch of its Akula mobile app platform.
Akula allows developers, corporations, and IT teams to build, deploy, and manage apps into mission-critical environments without worrying about all the enterprise-specific backend details that cause most headaches. The launch also marks a significant change in Verivo’s go-to-market strategy, as the company will offer its first ever free trials with the hope that the product will sell itself.
The key challenges of enterprise development are meeting rigorous security standards, enabling offline functionality, allowing IT to control and manage usage, and supporting multi-device, multi-OS, and multi-backend environments. Akula offers developers a comprehensive solution to each of these issues right out of the box.
In other words, it separates the front end from the back end, allowing developers to focus on delivering value to the user not to their (justifiably) paranoid CTO. While also lightening the load on the developer, Akula also reduces app development timeframes, reduces development and operating costs, reduces downtime, and reduces security risk – all of which are invaluable in competitive, fast-paced, and highly sensitive industries.
Akula was built based on customer and market feedback, CEO Steve Levy says. The server-side product enables custom configuration of data accessibility, such that it’s possible to grant some team members full access to CRM or ERP platforms, for example, while others receive limited access. IT operators also get access to a console that enables real-time usage monitoring and troubleshooting.
Verivo implemented a head-start program through which several customers received access to early versions of the platform and have been using it to build and deploy their own apps. General availability of Akula is scheduled for June 28. Pricing is tiered according to the size and stage of the deployment. Development-stage projects are priced at $5,000 per year, while small or limited deployments cost $15,000 per year, and standard deployments cost $60,000 per server, per year. Levy calls the price points “compelling to any company with 100 or more employees.”
Verivo is a 10-year-old-company that was one of the first to develop mobile apps for the enterprise, including its popular financial sector products for Blackberry users in 2001 through 2007, aka pre-iPhone. With Levy joining the company in mid-2012 as its new CEO, the company switched from an app-development model to a platform strategy, with Akula being the first result of that shift.
Despite the dramatic business model shift, Verivo’s existing business is extremely healthy, with revenue growing 35 percent in 2012 and customers growing by 20 percent, according to Levy. Existing customers include Thomson Reuters, Toyota, Deloitte, Halliburton, Hitachi, and Allstate, among many others. The CEO describes revenue as between $10 million and $100 million and notes that Verivo is operating profitably and has been “for a while.” The company raised $27 million in new funding over the last 18 months to pursue its new platform strategy, with investors including Commonwealth Capital Ventures, Ascent Venture Partners, and Egan-Managed Capital.
If you had to name MEAP (mobile enterprise app platform) competitors you’d be obligated to name legacy companies like SAP, IBM, Antenna, and Kony, as well as mBaaS (mobile backend as a service) players like Kinvey and StackMob. But none offer anywhere near the degree of enterprise grade functionality and yet vendor independence and flexibility as Verivo has with Akula. But while the company has a head start in this category, it is likely to see significant competition in years to come.
Bring-your-own-device cultures and remote-working arrangements make mobile an integral yet challenging part of enterprise development. Recognizing this, Verivo took the concerns of its existing customers and its years of experience solving the problems specific to this market segment and baked both into its Akula platform with the goal of circumventing many of the most common challenges. The result is a platform that gives developers permission to focus on the end user, not the IT department.