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Companies face a fluctuating enterprise mobility management market this year, and IT pros must weigh the technological advances in products against concerns about market consolidation.
As enterprise mobility, the consumerization of IT and bring your own device (BYOD) trends continue to pervade the enterprise, analysts and industry vendors see the enterprise mobility management (EMM) story of 2014 as being a mix of more technological advances and consolidation and acquisitions.
EMM platforms have evolved to the point where vendors are going to have to start getting creative to expand their capability range, according to Eric Klein, senior mobility analyst at VDC Research Group Inc., in Natick, Mass.
Two areas EMM providers such as AirWatch and MobileIron can improve are mobile application management and content management.
"[Application management] is the area that's limited to Apperian right now; they're the last best-of-breed vendor standing," Klein said. "But in content management, there are interesting startups that have better functionality than AirWatch and MobileIron."
Chris Hazeltonmobile analyst, 451 Research
Video and voice augmentation for current EMM platforms is another area of possible expansion, but Klein said that will depend on customer testing or demand for such capabilities.
Which EMM vendor shall remain standing? That's the story of 2014, said Chris Hazelton, mobile analyst and research director at 451 Research, based in New York.
"There could be companies that pull out of the EMM space or reduce their focus," Hazelton said. "Those will be companies that have EMM as part of their portfolio or as part of a larger endpoint management offering."
After Fiberlink Communications was acquired by IBM late in 2013, AirWatch and MobileIron became the two biggest EMM vendors that haven't been scooped up by bigger companies. Hazelton said the size of those companies would make for a costly acquisition now.
Who's looking to acquire EMM?
The field of companies that would potentially add EMM has dwindled. In addition to IBM's acquisition of Fiberlink, Oracle added Bitzer Mobile, Citrix acquired Zenprise, SAP took on Sybase and Wavelink was purchased by LANDesk Software. In addition, Microsoft and Dell recently introduced their own EMM platforms.
VMware Inc. and BMC Software Inc. might add EMM, Klein said. Speculation was raised last week about VMware's chances of success in mobility after adding two former Citrix executives for its end-user computing division and promoting a new EUC chief technology officer.
Hazelton said VMware is rethinking its strategy. He attributes that to Apple's release of mobile application management capabilities for iOS 7 that were similar to what VMware offered.
"They want to support Apple and they want to work with Apple, but providing a product that already does what Apple does is a good way to not do well," Hazelton said. Although acquiring an EMM vendor and adding it to its existing Horizon Workspace could be beneficial, Hazelton questioned its value.
VMware declined to comment on its mobility plans.
In addition to companies such as AirWatch, MobileIron and Good Technology, Klein and Hazelton mentioned smaller players such as BoxTone Inc. and Soti Inc. as possible acquisition targets.
"There are certainly eyes on those companies, and I think they're getting propositioned all the time," Klein said. "They're just holding out for a larger amount of money. … How long they can hold out remains to be seen."
AirWatch and MobileIron each expressed interest at remaining an independent company, although AirWatch chairman Alan Dabbiere left the door open.
"If we come to the point where we think [AirWatch] needs to be part of a bigger platform, we're going to do what's right for our customers and our employees," he said.
Good Technology Inc., meanwhile, will "never say never" to future opportunities, according to Christy Wyatt, the company's CEO.
AirWatch, Good offer new EMM and MDM features
AirWatch this week introduced a containerized email client, AirWatch Inbox, as part of its overall Mobile Email Management suite. It can either be a standalone application or used within AirWatch's full EMM product suite.
"There's no NOC [network operations center] that you go through, like you do with Good or BlackBerry," said Blake Brannon, senior production engineer at AirWatch. "It's really designed around a modern way of doing email, the same way that the native mail clients work on all the smartphones."
AirWatch Inbox is available on Android and Apple iOS devices for $1 per month per device, with maintenance included or a one-time $20 per-device fee with an annual $4 maintenance fee per device.
Good Technology recently offered updates to its Good Collaboration Suite and Enterprise Single Sign-On, as well as a new deployment option for its Good Dynamics Secure Mobility Platform.
The Good Collaboration Suite features an updated Good for Enterprise with new calendar capabilities and new integration between Good for Enterprise, Good Share and Good Connect for file sharing.
The Good Dynamics Direct Connect deployment option allows data to flow from mobile devices to or from a corporate network over a secure connection without going through the Good Dynamics Network Operations Center. The NOC still manages authentication, but data will flow directly to the enterprise.
Single Sign-On allows users to log in to any Good-secured app to access information behind a company's firewall without having to input enterprise login credentials on their mobile devices.
One IT pro with a network that supports around 4,800 worker-owned devices said he found Single Sign-On to be useful for his company's secure intranet access.
"The ability to send files and attachments and annotate them with third-party protection is an important feature," said Steve Chong, manager of collaboration and mobility at Union Bank, based in San Francisco, which has used Good for mobile management for six years.
Good for Enterprise is available for $5 per device per month while Good Dynamics is available for $60 per user per year.