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BlackBerry, Citrix to join AppConfig Community

This blog post is part of our Essential Guide: Citrix Synergy 2016 conference coverage

Any successful effort to establish technology standards needs buy-in from all major stakeholders. The AppConfig Community, which aims to promote mobile application management standards, is about to take significant steps towards that goal.

BlackBerry and Citrix will join AppConfig, according to sources with direct knowledge of the vendors’ plans. Founding members VMware AirWatch, MobileIron, IBM and JAMF Software launched the organization in February.

The additions of BlackBerry and Citrix mean AppConfig will soon count as members all the leading vendors in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for enterprise mobility management (EMM)* and five of the top six vendors by market share, according to IDC’s most recent numbers.

Citrix provided this statement after this article’s initial publication: “At this time, Citrix is not a member and the company has not committed to join the AppConfig Community yet.”

Mobile application management (MAM) is a subset of EMM that allows IT to secure, apply policy to and control the flow of data from individual apps. Currently, developers have to create separate versions of their apps for each MAM product. Doing so is a lot of work, so as a result, there’s no MAM platform that manages every app an organization uses.

The goal of the AppConfig Community is to instead promote the use of the MAM features built in to mobile operating systems, starting with Apple iOS. Under this vision, all MAM products would be able to manage all apps in the same way, reducing the fragmentation that can frustrate IT.

Citrix had attempted to solve this problem with a different approach. Its Dynamic Containerization technology, previewed at last year’s Synergy conference, would have managed any publicly available app without requiring any developer modifications. But the company abandoned those plans in December.

There are some downsides to standardization, however. For IT, it limits MAM to the native capabilities in an OS. These features have improved over the years, thanks to advancements such as Apple’s Managed Open In, but they may not meet organizations’ every need. And for the vendors, standardization commoditizes MAM, meaning they’ll need to find other ways to differentiate themselves in the EMM market.

*BlackBerry was not a leader in the most recent Magic Quadrant, but it has since acquired Good Technology, which was.

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