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Citrix acquires Zenprise MDM tools for CloudGateway, mobile apps

Citrix acquired Zenprise to supply customers with an MDM tool that works with CloudGateway and helps admins manage mobile devices and applications.

Citrix customers will soon have a way to manage mobile devices, applications and data from a single console, thanks to a strategic acquisition the company made this week.

Citrix Systems, Inc. acquired mobile device management (MDM) vendor Zenprise to integrate the Redwood City, Calif.-based company’s product with Citrix's CloudGateway and Me@Work mobile applications.

The move will fill a significant hole in Citrix’s enterprise mobility stack, which had been missing an MDM tool that offers a way to easily manage mobile devices. 

The deal, made for an undisclosed sum, is expected to close in the first quarter of 2013.

Until now, Citrix has approached enterprise mobility from an application and virtualization point of view, but the majority of IT departments want a way to manage mobile devices, said Chris Silva, a mobile analyst with San Mateo, Calif.-based research firm, the Altimeter Group.

“Citrix has always said you can protect the data without caring about the device, either through ShareFile or by virtualizing the application on the device,” Silva said. “But, you need to have a way to manage the device for a full enterprise mobile stack.”

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Citrix customers who want to manage mobile devices can now do so with Zenprise’s MDM tool and product suite. If customers want to manage mobile apps on those devices, organizations can do that with technology from either Citrix or Zenprise. Companies that need to push apps to managed mobile devices in a secure manner can do so with existing Citrix products, said Chris Hazelton, a Boston-based mobile analyst at 451 Research. 

Zenprise’s MDM tools have all the functionality that Citrix needs, and they do the job just fine, but they aren't considered “cutting edge,” according to Benjamin Robbins, a principal at Palador, an enterprise mobility consulting firm based in Seattle.

He said Citrix may have bought Zenprise simply to check a box on the product offerings list and gain Zenprise's 1,000 mobile customers.

Others said that those are precisely the reasons why the deal makes sense.

“It’s a win for everyone involved, from IT departments to both companies,” said Jack Gold, founder of J. Gold and Associates, an IT consulting firm based in Ashland, Mass.

Further, this acquisition indicates that mobile devices won’t be treated as a different kind of endpoint by IT departments for much longer,, and mobile device management will soon be an integral part of IT, experts said.

“Mobile is just an endpoint, and having a standalone stack to just manage one particular endpoint that’s been treated like a special snowflake won’t stand up over the long run,” Silva said.

The mergers and acquisitions team at 451 Research estimates the final price tag for Zenprise's acquisition could be between $250 million and $350 million, based on recent MDM acquisitions by other companies and Zenprise’s $63 million in venture capital funding.  

Zenprise was one of five MDM vendors named to Gartner’s Magic Quadrant, alongside Good Technology, AirWatch, MobileIron and Fiberlink.

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