Is both easy to predict (you don’t need to be an industry insider or pundit) and has the potential to have profound impact on how we deliver end user computing going forward.
- The battle is at one level being played out in the business pages. Citrix buys Zenprise, VMware buys Airwatch, IBM buys Fiber-Link ,everyone assumes Mobile Iron needs a partner. Those who believe in “following the money” are sure the shakeout is at hand.
- The intensity of the competition is evidenced in the rapid improvement in features and reductions in price. Many of my industry colleagues and I have experience with Good Technology, which for years seemed to be riding their “first to market” status with inflexible pricing and slow product evolution. But Good has been rapidly improving their core product, driving price/feature/value ratios down, and building more partnerships in the Dynamics ecosystem.
Now I don’t claim to be an expert in this space. There are a dizzying range of technologies and acronyms in the space ranging from MDM (mobile device management), MAM (mobile application management), secure containers, application wrapping, “micro-VPN’s”…..yikes!
And there are a lot more vendors than the ones I mentioned above. Our good friend Blackberry are trying to break into this space for devices other than their own, Microsoft is trying to move their ” Windows centric” capabilities focused on Windows 8.1 to a standards based management platform, and people will mention at various times SAP, Boxtone, McAfee, Symantec…the list goes on. And then there are the “Apperian’s” of the world who are Mobile Application companies that almost inevitably will morph into EMM players.
What I do feel comfortable talking about is my experience with a couple of these platforms and their implications for the future.
Good Technology is the current owner of “mind share” in supporting secure BYOD on mobile devices for regulated enterprises and government. (I am not plugged in enough to know if mind share leadership still equates to market leadership as AirWatch and Mobile Iron chase them). What I will tell you that as an early leader they are poster children for demonstrating why some EMM suite will become the core of end user computing delivery.
- End users start by just being delighted to get email on a device of their choosing and viewing attachments on the larger, but still portable, screen of a tablet.
- Then if the IT team is smart, they introduce Good Dynamics and capabilities like document annotation, MS Office document creation and editing, access to network file shares or Sharepoint, etc
- and finally the Dynamics ecosystem brings third party applications like Dropbox (if your security policies can handle), CRM, BI dashboards, etc..all still contained within the secure EAM container that most regulated firms need for BYOD and mobility
The simple truth is the combination above makes laptops unnecessary for most employees, delights them in having access from unmanaged, lightweight devices of their choice, and if coupled with a mix of thin client and Wi-Fi at work locations, can radically change the end user computing delivery approach at most firms while both delighting end users and providing a technology framework to anchor IT skills around, and coalesce service offerings and processes.
I guess that is my main point. Windows, although still important and powerful, is too fragmented and complex to rally IT skills, training and service offerings around, and I really believe that it is imperative we simplify EUC with a delivery framework.
Now as it happens, I believe that the framework that will win in most enterprises needs to encompass the venerable PC and laptop as well. That might narrow the EMM field to players like Citrix, VMware, Microsoft?, and Dell who is pushing into the space.
My personal pick would be Citrix. They obviously have great history in the Windows mobility space with XenApp and XenDesktop virtualization and remote access solutions, and XenMobile gives them a complete suite:
- They can put a secure container on smartphones and tablets, with local applications and a partner ecosystem, WorX, which competes with Dynamics
- They retain the ability to provide access from most PC/laptop form factors to virtualized Windows desktop and applications (and in fact can provide that from phones and tablets if you really want)
- but unlike many of the EMM providers, they can put the container on laptops. Why is that important you ask? Winning the battle over offline access with end users. Many end users fight the migration to virtualized desktops because the simple way to deploy them is in online mode, where the user connects back into the enterprise data centre. If that is not always possible, they whinge and whine until they get local apps, with all the complexities then of VPN, encryption, support, etc. Yuch! The same easy to manage container that provides local offline access to email on smartphones and tablets can, in the Citrix suite, be put on a BYOD laptop and provide that offline capability without the risks, costs, and overheads of traditional laptops or local virtual desktops.
Now VMware and Dell are in the hunt, but I think Citrix has the focus, the market presence, and the leadership DNA to survive the shakeout in best shape. If IT teams are going to abandon the nonsense of best of breed architecture selection and integration in favour of aligning around delivery frameworks, I think Citrix is the most effective and appropriate play in the fullness of time. That said, Good is still the leader, and may be able to effect product growth or alliances that build on the way they currently delight end users to stay the leader.
And of course, smarter folk than I will tell you that these EAM containers are doomed, that the future is in native applications and UI, based on OS specific containerization, and tied together with a policy framework. Maybe, but that policy framework will be hard to explain to Security, and complex to run, so I am going to bet on a suite of container and host/terminal access capabilities for now.