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Citrix may add CloudGateway mobile device management, exec says

Citrix sees mobile application management as the wave of the future, but customers aren't ready. So, the company may give them what they want: mobile device management.

BOSTON -- Citrix may offer mobile device management features to customers who aren't ready for mobile application management -- i.e., pretty much everybody.

Citrix Systems Inc.'s main focus in the mobile market is to use the CloudGateway 2 Web interface to manage and deliver applications to smartphones and tablets. But Jesse Lipson, the company's vice president and general manager for data sharing, acknowledged in an interview that this approach may be too forward-thinking. Most customers are just starting to adopt mobile device management (MDM), and mobile application management (MAM) isn't in their immediate plans, Lipson said.

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"CloudGateway will probably be adding in some lightweight MDM kind of management -- like device authentication, some things like that -- just because we can't totally wait for the market to catch up and understand that MAM is really more the wave of the future," he said.

"I personally think that the approach CloudGateway has taken, that's going to be the best approach a couple years from now, but we need to also look at the world of today and throw some occasional MDM features in," he added. "Being too far ahead is just as bad as being too far behind. You don't want to lose the market."

Lipson, the former CEO of ShareFile, a cloud file-sharing and collaboration vendor Citrix acquired in 2011, sat down at the Mobile Connect conference here this week and also talked about how mobility, the cloud and collaboration are changing IT:

Q: Traditionally, IT has treated storage and collaboration separately, and that's been changing a lot recently, with cloud services such as ShareFile and other companies. Why is that the case? Where is the natural connection between the two?

Lipson: If you're doing a file transfer or file collaboration, it's not in a vacuum. There's usually some kind of workflow that you're doing there. Also, there's some inherent collaboration around certain types of files -- for example, PowerPoint presentations. I'm working with a group of people, and I put something up and somebody may want to make a comment. …I think that's where the intersection happens, and with the traditional file system, it just wasn't possible at all.

Q: We're also seeing more integration between these kinds of tools and application management and delivery tools. How does that change IT's role?

Lipson: I think things have gotten a lot more complicated for IT. Five years ago, you had this model where IT was giving you this sanctioned device, this sanctioned BlackBerry, and because the business provided it to you, you basically understood that they … could have full control of that device. And now … people feel a lot differently about, if I paid $600 for my own iPad, my IT guy going and putting an MDM solution on it. And so it creates really complex challenges.

I also think that IT is moving more from a "hey, we're going to provision you with X, Y and Z" model to the app store model that's happened on the consumer side.

Q: So, we have storage and collaboration and application management/delivery all kind of coming together now. Are there any other technologies or strategies that you see eventually getting folded in?

Lipson: There's going to be a need in this world of Software as a Service and apps … to aggregate information. We realize on the ShareFile side that people do have other data stores that are not ShareFile. And there's a real challenge accessing systems like SharePoint outside the firewall from any device. … How do I get to all of my data from anywhere? And when it comes to collaboration, how do I pull all my collaboration sources and make them accessible from anywhere?

Q: What's in it for IT to adopt these new ways of doing things?

Lipson: A lot of times the benefit for IT is, create a good, IT-sanctioned solution so people don't start using their own solution in the business and take intellectual property from the business and put it onto personal systems. And so I think there's a clear benefit on the data side. … The social collaboration, I think it's more of a business benefit.

Let us know what you think about this story; email Colin Steele and follow @colinsteele on Twitter. Like on Facebook.

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