This week the biggest mobile trade show, Mobile World Congress, was held again in Barcelona. Though mostly focused on cellular infrastructure solutions, the past couple of years have seen expansion into end user computing. Part of this is because many infrastructure vendors also have expanded in this direction. Enterprise wireless has become a part of the show and some announcements are usually made this week. Probably the two biggest for EUC this week was the evolution of the Samsung Knox platform and the acquisition of BoxTone by Good Technology.
For the first, Citrix has been a longtime partner of Samsung and has been working with them over the past year to support Knox as it evolved. Citrix announced Knox support in Q4 2013, but end user demand has been slow. Lots of interest, but not much in adoption. Part of this is because Knox is focused only on some Samsung Android phones, and Citrix still sees iOS as the number one adopted enterprise platform. This is changing, with Android being accepted and part of the enterprise policy. Samsung is clearing up a bit of confusion around Knox and SAFE by changing SAFE into “Knox Standard” and the Knox container into “Knox Premium.” Changing the way apps work in Knox by supporting work and personal profiles will also go a long way into interesting IT also, which was also announced this week. Fewer issues around recoding and altering apps is always a good thing.
On the second front, Good Technology announced its plan on acquiring BoxTone. The two had been in a partnership for about a year. Good needed BoxTone’s basic management platform and advanced set of analytics. It was another example of an MDM company increasing its reach, more towards the basic platform enhancement vs. expanding functionality. This is similar to the last MDM acquisition, that VMware made in January.
On January 22, VMware announced it was buying MDM provider AirWatch for approximately $1.5 billion. It was widely known that VMware was looking at technology providers in order to round out its mobile end user offerings. The surprise was that it went after AirWatch versus Mobile Iron or Good Technology–two other leaders that were part of the speculation. No doubt this is a good, but expensive acquisition for VMware. Reuters reported AirWatch’s current revenue at $75 million here. VMware gets a large, global telecom service provider channel and a large number of sales people to their team, but most of those are new to AirWatch in the past year and new to mobility. It will also need to integrate both the technology and employees to be successful. The press release from VMware can be found here.
All mobility and MDM providers have seen AirWatch as one of it biggest competitors in deals over the last two years, and it has seen solid growth. One publication has covered some of that here, already. Less than a year ago, AirWatch had secured its first round of funding for $225, so it was in no rush due to financial need. But the enterprise mobility market is growing quickly and VMware was not part of that discussion. It struggled with numerous, non-integrated mobile technologies, with a proprietary hypervisor solution for Android and no real controls over iOS. It was seeing other companies and competitors grow its mobile solutions and increase presence and awareness in not just mobile but in other enterprise technologies that contribute to a solution. For example, MDM and mobile technologies lead to other areas and sales including collaboration, networking, file sharing, storage, servers etc. So it is an important base in order to grow other technology revenues in addition to and driven by mobility. VMware needs to be thought of as an important provider in this space and wants a piece of that revenue. As do we all.
Enterprise companies want a turnkey, enterprise-grade solution from a known provider, one they can feel sure will be around in the next year, hence the evolution of MDM to EMM (enterprise mobility management). There is a fast growing market for total solutions, and there is plenty of room to succeed here. VMware, IBM (which recently acquired Fiberlink MaaS360) and Good’s acquisitions validates both the importance of enterprise mobility and a solutions-based strategy, and that bigger companies are driving the way forward. But an enterprise mobile solution is a big puzzle that one no has really completed successfully yet. New pieces are emerging all the time. The newer entries have taken an important step in the right direction in terms of their offerings. The more complex, deeper need for EMM is what’s selling today and in the future.