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Microsoft, Dell EMM updates take aim at crowded market

With new features on the way, Dell and Microsoft will vie for more EMM customers this fall. What will it take to bring them on board?

In the flourishing EMM market, new entrants must offer something substantial to enterprise customers or their products will get lost in the noise. Vendor heavyweights like Microsoft and Dell are no exception.

Microsoft and Dell have learned that name recognition will only get them so far as they fight for a share of the ever growing market.

To that end, Dell will introduce Dell Business Phone, an application for Apple iOS and Google Android devices for secure voice and texting as the latest version of its enterprise mobility management (EMM) tool. Included is Office 365 integration within email and Box for content collaboration within the Dell Mobile Workspace.

Vonage will provide the voice over IP technology for the Dell Business Phone, where end users can have a separate line on their smartphone solely for business use, no matter if the phone is corporate or employee-owned.

Dell EMM hasn't seen significant adoption since its release earlier this year. The company said it's currently "peaking close to four digits" for total EMM customers.

There are [customers] they are going to have to go out and pretty aggressively fight for.
Wes Millerresearch director, Direction on Microsoft

By comparison, VMware's AirWatch claimed an EMM customer base of around 13,000.

Dell has the advantage of name recognition amongst hardware customers and the latest EMM release appears to target mid-market customers, who know Dell and may be willing to give its software a chance.

The additions should give Dell an opportunity to show off a broader software portfolio that could appeal to non-Dell hardware customers, said Maribel Lopez, analyst with Lopez Research in San Francisco.

Dell touted its new EMM features as being cloud-specific, including all of the Dell Mobile Workspace features like Box and Office 365 integrations and Dell Business Phone. That should also attract small and medium-sized customers who may be more likely to use the cloud than on-premises hardware due to cost, Lopez added.

"It's a modular cloud and its multiple entities managed by one company," she said.

Dell seeks its EMM 'voice'

For Dell's part, adding the voice feature through its Vonage partnership could attract customers in that mid-market range who aren't locked into long-term contracts, Lopez said.

The opportunity may be there for customers looking to transition from one voice product to another, or if they'd like to have a more overarching, integrated portfolio around all things mobile, she added.

This concept alleviates the need for multiple phone numbers, said William Ho, principal analyst for 566 Ventures LLC, a consulting company based in Reston, Va.

"It's about multiple identities on the phone," Ho said.

The key, however, is how Dell and Vonage sell the product through its channels, Ho said.

With BYOD, Dell's service may make it easier for companies to manage expenses for corporate calls, since they can all take place within the Dell Business Phone application. Questions about overages related to those calls could then be resolved if they're happening solely within the app.

"This is a potential value add that nobody else is really thinking about right now," Lopez said.

Dell's new EMM iteration is currently being tested internally and will be available to customers in October. Four different prepackaged plans for Dell Business Phone with Vonage Business Solutions will start at $19.99 per month for up to 1,000 minutes and unlimited texting and no activation fee. A Windows Phone version is expected at a later date.

Microsoft challenges similar to Dell

Microsoft is also trying to gain a footing in the EMM market. The company combines products such as Windows Intune, Azure Active Directory Premium and Azure Rights Management Services.

After VMware introduced its Workspace Suite at VMworld, Brad Anderson, Microsoft's corporate vice president of Windows Server and System Center management, compared it with Microsoft Enterprise Mobility Suite.

Anderson said Microsoft does a better job than other vendors of integrating identity and access management features into its EMM platform and managing Office applications.

But while Android and iOS applications can now be provisioned through Intune, the platform lacks a container for those operating systems as well as app wrapping and software developer kits to bring apps into a container. Those features are expected this fall, Anderson said.

Microsoft and Dell don't have a lot of name recognition when it comes to their mobile device management (MDM) and other EMM features. Raising awareness within their customer base is a challenge itself, said Wes Miller, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft, an IT consulting firm in Kirkland, Wash.

Microsoft is trying hard to go after businesses who may not have integrated EMM products with Active Directory environments, Miller said.

"There are some customers they can pick up but there are others they are going to have to go out and pretty aggressively fight for because a lot of these businesses are already entrenched with MDM players who were early," Miller said.

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Do Dell and Microsoft present attractive EMM platforms for your business?
I just find it funny that VMware copied Citrix's strategy. Even going as far as to copy the exact same name for a product.
Which strategy/products are you talking about for VMware and Citrix?