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Citrix and Microsoft make a formidable mobile tag team

The battle lines have been drawn in the enterprise mobility management market.

On one side we have the AppConfig Community, whose member vendors want to standardize mobile application management (MAM) through the use of built-in features at the operating system level. Standards do a lot to help IT departments; without them, no MAM product can manage every app in a given organization.

AppConfig’s members include co-founders VMware AirWatch, MobileIron, IBM and JAMF Software, plus SOTI. Two big names missing from that list are Citrix and Microsoft. They’re cozying up to each other more and more these days, and they have a not-so-secret weapon: Microsoft’s Office mobile apps.

Any IT department that plans to manage mobile apps likely has Word and Excel at or near the top of its list. They drive productivity and are extremely important to the business. Only two products can manage them: Microsoft Intune and, thanks to a new agreement, Citrix XenMobile. (Similarly, Intune can also manage Citrix’s Worx suite of productivity apps.)

Citrix was close to joining AppConfig back in May, before its annual Synergy conference. But at the show, the company announced the Intune-Worx news and then said it was only evaluating AppConfig membership. That stance hasn’t changed, a spokesman said this week.

Still, it’s hard to imagine Citrix signing on now to a consortium VMware co-founded, after so closely aligning itself with one of VMware’s fiercest rivals — even though AppConfig would still welcome the company, according to a source close to the situation. Plus, Citrix and Microsoft have a long and strong partnership in the virtualization market. New Citrix CEO Kirill Tatarinov was a high-ranking exec in Redmond for 13 years. And AppConfig’s approach requires devices to be enrolled in mobile device management, which conflicts with Citrix’s MAM-first philosophy.

Citrix and Microsoft vs. VMware is a fight we’ve seen before, and it appears the bell has rung to start another round.