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XenMobile MAM covers all bases as Citrix joins AppConfig Community

It’s no longer Citrix and Microsoft vs. the world in the MAM market.

Not too long ago, Citrix was the only third-party vendor that could manage Microsoft Office 365 mobile apps, and all the other major players promoted native OS-level mobile application management (MAM) through membership in the AppConfig Community. But over the past year, two of the market leaders — VMware, which co-founded AppConfig, and BlackBerry — added support for Office 365 mobile apps through the Microsoft Intune Graph API. And now, after flirting with the idea for two years, Citrix has joined AppConfig.

Upon first hearing the news, I cynically thought Citrix was trying to have its cake and eat it, too. They’re joining a group that supports open, standardized MAM, while they still support Microsoft’s closed MAM ecosystem and have their own proprietary XenMobile MAM? The nerve!

But after thinking more about it, I realized it’s a good thing for IT professionals that the MAM battle lines are blurring. Many organizations are going to need to manage Office 365 mobile apps through the Graph API and also manage other mobile apps through Apple iOS and Google Android’s native capabilities. The more vendors that support both, the more choices that IT departments will have. And Citrix wants XenMobile MAM to be in those discussions.

“We started to recognize that customers wanted to have that flexibility,” said Suzanne Dickson, director of XenMobile product marketing. “They’ve gotten a lot more sophisticated now. They have different use cases.”

XenMobile MAM has always been able to use OS-level controls, but the lack of formal AppConfig support hurt the product’s perception, Dickson said.

“It was sort of a checkbox thing,” she added.

Citrix’s road to the AppConfig Community

In the early days of MAM, a developer had to build a different version of their app for every MAM product they wanted it to work with. That was a tall task, so most apps ended up not being compatible with every MAM product. And instead of trying to sort it all out and purchase multiple MAM products to manage all their apps, a lot of IT departments just didn’t buy MAM at all.

When Apple added application management capabilities to the mobile device management (MDM) APIs in iOS, it opened the door for VMware, MobileIron, IBM and Jamf Software to form the AppConfig Community in 2016 and promote these features as a sort of standard. (Android also added its own OS-level MAM capabilities and later joined AppConfig.)

Citrix was in talks to join the consortium shortly after its inception but instead focused on XenMobile MAM — which, unlike AppConfig’s approach, does not require devices to be enrolled in MDM — and on its partnership with Microsoft.

Through that partnership, XenMobile provides additional features than just managing Office 365 mobile apps through the Graph API. Those include a Secure Mail app that Intune can manage and per-app VPN capabilities for other Intune-managed apps.

Citrix’s membership in AppConfig will not affect that partnership, Dickson said.

“We still have a really good relationship with Microsoft,” she said.

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