Event Recap – Citrix Synergy

Citrix succeeded in demonstrating it can innovate on application delivery and customer service

I had the pleasure of attending Citrix's Synergy customer event this past week in Orlando Florida. The event was well attended (about 7.5K on-prem, and roughly 5K remote attendees) and featured a nice mix of vendors on the show floor that ranged from small startups to heavies such as Cisco, IBM, Intel and Microsoft. After narrowly missing its Q1 numbers a few weeks ago, Citrix needed to demonstrate that its recent restructuring and organizational changes were positives; and that they were helping to transition the business to its next phase of growth. The company's GM and CSO for Workspace Services Geir Ramleth summed it up nicely when he said: "This is a new Citrix we're moving in a more cohesive way." Citrix was successful in this vein, Synergy provided a big opportunity to showcase a robust innovation pipeline in front of the company's most important customers.

The Suite Always Wins (right?)

If you've been tracking the evolution of mobile enablement in the enterprise, you know that many vendors are vying to deliver "holistic" or "end-to-end" mobility solutions (suites). The goal is certainly a noble one, but it is not very realistic. Most large firms are working with several EMM and complementary security vendors, as well as with a variety of application development platform and tool vendors; while this is not ideal, it is a fact of life (today at least). However, as Apple, Google, Samsung and Microsoft continue to refine their mobility solutions, vendors like Citrix will need to focus on helping businesses simplify application delivery and provide them with tools that can help with implementing best practices and with  mobile architecture and security policies. Bottom line, differentiating is going to get tougher. From what I head at Synergy, Citrix gets it, and is working hard on developing new products and services that will enable businesses to move beyond thinking about which devices to provision and support by offering device and network agnostic solutions that can manage modern mobile applications while enabling them to move legacy applications to a cloud environment via a single control plane.

The "suite approach" isn't going away (IBM, Oracle and SAP have proved that), but it is changing. Opening up platforms is critical moving forward; customers don't want to be "locked in", and need the flexibility to run the applications of their choosing. While Citrix maintains a broad portfolio of products: XenApp, XenDesktop and XenServer to secure data via virtualization, NetScaler and CloudBridge to secure the network, and XenMobile, WorxApps and ShareFile (and now Workspace Cloud) to provide a containerized environment for productivity applications, to share content and provision applications, it is a stretch to call these a "suite". However, the range of these solutions shows how many elements are needed in a modern enterprise. Not to mention important partners that vendors like Citrix must integrate with that can help deliver capabilities for streamlining app development, enhanced security, secure messaging, and user experience reporting/monitoring. Bottom line, suites sound good to customers, but require complementary solutions. While the vision and approach that Citrix is pursuing to enable their customers to seamlessly manage and provision modern mobile applications while helping them move to the cloud is the right one; others have moved in this direction too.

Feud Continues — Enzo and Beyond the Horizon

The fact the VMware unveiled its project "Enzo" the day before Citrix's Synergy event wasn't surprising (after all, Citirix announced key enhancements to XenApp and Xen Desktop the day before VMworld kicked off last summer). Regardless, both Enzo and Citrix's Workspace Cloud share a similar goal and  make use of a control plane to enable customers to deliver a comprehensive mobile workspace to their end users; with the aim of better orchestration between apps, physical resources and the cloud. I plan on digging deeper to learn more about the technical differences between these competing solutions; suffice it to say that these are complex and have the potential to disrupt how end user computing services are delivered. Both Citrix and VMware have robust solutions; however they both are challenged by the strong interdependencies that exist between their various solution components  not to mention limited backwards compatibility as they update their platforms.

One Final Thing ...


The big reveal at Synergy was Dynamic Containerization (DC) which appears to bypass the need to access and modify an app's source code (a cumbersome and very limiting process). DC brings the ability to containerize any publicly available app from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. I had the opportunity to speak with several key stakeholders that were involved in developing DC; there is no question that Citrix has proved they can deliver this capability (I've saw a demo), however, I'm skeptical as to whether the method/IP is in violation of the TOS of both Apple and Google. End users would love this capability and have been asking for it; however this will be a wait and see as the product matures.


Mark Templeton has been with Citrix from the beginning, he's plain-spoken, down-to-earth and is the epitome of the #UNCEO. CEO's like John Legere and Marc Benioff may be the most prominent #UNCEO's, but Templeton should be right there with them (credit to my friend @bobeagan for mentioning this at the event). Not only does he pull off this vest, but Marc made it a priority to visit with many of his company's partners on the show floor (even the smallest vendors).

Ping Marc and encourage him to be more active on Twitter - it's not too late. After all, Obama just joined this week!


This blog didn't cover several of the important initiatives that were revealed at Synergy; namely: WorkspaceHub (a dongle which incorporates both BLE and WiFi and features with VGA and HDMI inputs) that leverages Octoblu (a Citrix cloud platform) to manage M2M interaction between devices by using sensors and wireless connectivity. The demo of this tech wowed the audience as it showed how a workspace could be seamlessly "moved" from one device to another. The integration with Amazon's Echo was the most impressive element as it enabled voice-control in the workplace. Concierge: which enables real-time customer service and support directly from within a mobile application (great use of #WebRTC). Citrix also showed off CubeFree: a modern version of the WiFi finder mobile app but for finding reliable workspaces (cool concept).

Upon leaving the event, it was clear that the company's key executives and product owner/managers had been busy working on the technology that was showcased. Citrix's vision is a good one, but it will definitely take time for companies to make a meaningful move in the direction that the company is moving in. There are a variety of factors that have placed CIOs in a holding pattern when it comes to extending mobile applications to their workforce. These range from the acknowledgment of not being properly equipped to support mobile platforms (from an IT and resource perspective) to being unable to successfully articulate the value proposition and ROI from mobile enablement to corporate leaders. But from what I'm seeing in the market, it will only be a matter of time ...



Event Recap ― SAP SAPPHIRE (Mobile Perspective)

2014 proved that SAP can play "in the cloud", but they still need to get their mobile house in order ...

S/4HANA's Big Roll out

To no one's surprise, this past week's SAPPHIRE conference was all about S/4HANA, the next-generation ERP suite that SAP launched this past February. The company's CEO Bill McDermott spoke with conviction about the importance of digitization and customer centricity, and made it clear that S/4HANA was going to deliver on the "simple promise" and help businesses become both data-driven and seamless.


S/4HANA is definitely a big deal, as it has a notably reduced footprint which will reduce complexity and simplify migration. But the speed of the platform is what will be the most appealing (3-7x the throughput and up to 1,800 times faster analytics, according to SAP). It remains to be seen how quickly the company will be able to capitalize from its robust and cloud-optimized business suite. SAP did a superb job this year in getting key prominent customers to participate on stage at SAPPHIRE — of course, the risk is that the spokesperson goes "off script" — this seemed to happen when Walmart's EVP and CIO Karenann Terrel proclaimed "I hope to see S4/HANA delivered in my lifetime ... it’s on my bucket list." Ouch. SAP needs to quickly prove that migration can be simple and beneficial. Progress is being made (the company revised its Q1 S/4HANA customer count to 400+ (from 370), but the bet on S/4HANA is so large, that the pace will need to increase quickly.

Google and Facebook

McDermott provided some new details on the future of his company's partnership with Google, saying that it will "make work easier for people". Google's Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt (via video) described it as "a great day", and explained how SAP software integration with Google for Work was a priority for the company. Schmidt went on to say: "What's great about this first step, with all the big customers that we jointly have, is that we are now able to show the power of web and mobile computing and the power of all that data and computation that SAP has been producing for years."

There were no real new details pertaining to the partnership with Facebook; however it is clear that the companies have been collaborating together since last summer. It appears as thought they have made progress by leveraging S/4HANA to enable businesses to build on-the-fly social media marketing promotions and target Facebook users with customized advertisements.

There were other notable announcements at the event, including a new CRM digital for customer engagement (DCE) application (initial 30-day free trial then $29/user/month), as well as some clear progress on the IoT front — however, the remainder of this post will focus on what we learned about the company's progress in augmenting its Mobile Secure product portfolio.

Rick is Running

SAP snagged a true mobility veteran in Rick Costanzo who has been running the company's global mobility BU for just over a year. Costanzo also is responsible for the company's Telco business (a recent reorganization called for the two BUs to merge) — however, the reorg. along with the departure of several key mobile executives, raised some eyebrows. After meeting with several key mobility executives (including Rick Costanzo), the party line was that the BUs were not only similar in size, but were better together. Could be. But, SAP needs the newly consolidated Telco and Mobility business units to enhance its delivery scale, increase agility, generate portfolio synergy and improve profitability. This is precisely what seems to be in the works, with a realigned go-to-market strategy, and a dedicated enterprise mobility sales organization. This is good progress considering Costanzo's short tenure. 

Mobile Secure, Apps and Key Partners

SAP is hinting at further integration of its development platform (SMP) with its Mobile Secure solution — this makes sense, and seems to be direction that others are moving in as well. The company also announced partnerships with Innovapptive and Sitrion to complement its custom mobile app platform; both offer prepackaged mobile apps and leverage S/4HANA's mobile services. SAP continues to benefit from its partnership with Mocana, and alluded to new synergistic partners that will likely be revealed in Q3. SAP continues to de-emphasize its Afaria brand (smart), and is leading with the right messaging: security. However, differentiation is becoming increasingly difficult for all enterprise mobility vendors — in this vein, SAP should be more aggressive with showing its customers that has been successful in unifying its disparate development platforms (SUP, Syclo, Mobilizer) and showcase its content and application management capabilities.

One last take away — key SAP mobility executives seem to be working well with key ecosystem partners such as Apple, Google, and Microsoft. In my view, the company's customer footprint in the enterprise is more valuable than it realizes; this puts SAP in a excellent negotiating position with these larger and highly sought after partners.

Off to Citrix Synergy!


Following Record Q2 Earnings, Apple Turns to Partnerships to Bolster Enterprise Ambitions

This week, Apple made headlines with record earnings in Q2, mostly on the back of iPhone 6 sales, while iPad sales continue to slip. In an effort to maintain the tablet’s relevance, Apple is redoubling its efforts in the enterprise, where the iPad has gained considerable traction. To that, CEO Tim Cook announced that Apple is working with an increased number of partners to expand its reach into the enterprise and change how people work. The partnership goes well beyond IBM to include app developers like Box, bigtincan, Docusign, ServiceMax, Revel, MicroStrategy and Workato to expand Apple’s reach well into the enterprise ecosystem. While OEMs partnering with ISVs is not new within the enterprise – we have only to look to both BlackBerry and Samsung’s teaming up with SAP as a counterexample – it nevertheless represents a continuation of Cook’s vision to firmly plant Apple in the enterprise. With Windows 10 looming on the horizon, growing Surface 3 and Surface 3 Pro sales and a stagnating market for consumer tablets, the pressure for Apple to establish itself as not only a viable competitor, but the competitor to beat in an increasingly competitive market.

Consumer devices still hold considerable influence

While iPad sales have stalled in the consumer market, their influence continues to grow within the enterprise, as a growing number of companies are looking to mobilize their workforce. SVP and CFO Luca Maestri cited a survey in Monday’s earning call in which 77% of corporate buyers looking to buy tablets within the next six months plan to purchase iPads. VDC estimates that in 2013, nearly 6 million devices were deployed into enterprise and government applications, accounting for nearly half the market of consumer grade tablets in the enterprise – a number that is sure to grow. The power of the brand and the familiarity of the user interface have made the tablet nearly the de facto choice for non-rugged deployments in the enterprise. In a world in which “tablet” and “iPad” are synonymous for many, particularly in an enterprise purchasing position, Apple’s potential is enormous. The groundwork Cook laid in opening up Apple and iOS to outside partnerships in previous year, particularly in making a decisive break with the company’s Jobsian roots in partnering with IBM for enterprise solutions, is providing a strong foundation upon which Apple can build.

In the land of enterprise mobility, user experience is king

However, to be successful in the enterprise, Apple needs to ensure the strength of its partnerships and its app ecosystem. Tuesday’s headlines of dozens of American Airlines flights being grounded due to an enterprise iPad app glitch is a glaring reminder as to the vulnerabilities that abound in the push to mobilize. Even when the stakes are not quite as high, there need nevertheless remains to ensure an integrated experience that functions in conjunction with robust security. While Apple is partnering with major ISVs, many smaller, best of breed names on the list will have the opportunity to bring their capabilities to the forefront on a much larger stage. Companies like bigtincan are looking to bring seamless functionality to the forefront, particularly in working with Apple’s Handoff technology to enable users to work with content across all form factors, as well as using other iOS features like TouchID and the ability to add external content from iOS8 enabled apps. Meanwhile, ISV Workato is partnering with Apple to provide an even deeper level of app integration that enables end users to enable workflows across applications without the need to app-swap. By opening itself up to such a broad spectrum of partners, Apple could shore up its position even further in the enterprise space, especially if it can provide the user experience enterprise consumers have come to expect through their personal devices.

Partnerships are bringing enterprise to all platforms

While much of the enterprise attention is focused on the iPad, given its commercial potential despite the rapid maturation of the form factor, another enterprise foothold could be the newly launched Apple Watch. Although much of the media attention has been dedicated to consumer adoption rates and applications, VDC has already looked at the potential for the wearable to pave the way for smartwatches to become a more integral part of enterprise mobility. Regardless of form factor, though, Apple has nurtured a healthy ecosystem of third-party applications and peripheral devices that are empowering enterprise across industry verticals that solidify the company’s capabilities beyond personal consumption. Moving forward, however, one concern Apple will need to address is the breadth of its services beyond its partnership with IBM, particularly as companies like Samsung have moved to expand its enterprise presence through a comprehensive services solution. The challenge now that it has donned the mantle of enterprise competitor will be to ensure that Apple can bring these partnerships to fruition and gain the necessary traction to successfully compete against the likes of Microsoft and Samsung in a world where services, user experience, and seamless integration are paramount. 


MobileIron's Miss

"Standing Alone" increasingly challenging for mobile-first EMM ISVs

Larry Dignan's article over at ZDNet this past week was a shot across the bow for the EMM market. In case you missed it, MobileIron announced that their CFO was departing, and issued a profit warning in their pre-announcement of their Q1 earnings (the company's Q1 earning call is scheduled for this Thursday). In their pre-announcement, MobileIron said that its Q1 non-GAAP revenue will be between $32M-$33M (down from its previous outlook of $34M-$37M). Gross billings (between $35.5M-$37M) were also lower than the $40M-$42M that they had expected. MobileIron's CEO Bob Tinker attributed the miss to several large deals not closing in Q1. Tinker also argued that the company's customers were moving toward monthly subscriptions and that the trend was cutting into revenue (reasonable).

What MOBL's Miss Means for the Broader Market

The EMM space is the most visible of the "segments" of the enterprise mobility ecosystem: not only have there been notable acquisitions (AirWatch, BoxTone, Fiberlink, and Zenprise), but participating vendors have demonstrated that they can win large deals, and attract key partners in the channel. However, being one of the two (Tangoe is the other) public "pure-play" mobile-first EMM ISVs is a challenge, as every move is "under the microscope". While EMM vendors are enjoying success in the market, the market is shifting beneath their feet. "Standing alone" as several prominent vendors currently are (e.g., Globo, Good Technology, MobileIron and SOTI) will be increasingly challenging moving forward as global channel expansion and substantial R&D investments that ensure continual product enhancements will be required not to mention the growing footprint of large and established vendors who have recently entered / plan to enter this market (e.g., Accelerite, CA, Dell, Microsoft, and Oracle).


I wrote about the "EMM Pivot" I was expecting this past March  and recent discussions I’ve had with several prominent EMM vendors has revealed an interesting approach on how they intend to evolve and differentiate their platforms moving forward. Key initiatives that are in development and on most road maps include:

  • Split billing
  • Unified Endpoint Management
  • Enhanced email clients
  • Secure Messaging
  • IoT and Wearable Strategies      
  • Architecture enhancements (moving away from "rack and stack")
  • UX / Console optimization

If you participate in this market, I'm still taking briefings to discuss the evolution of EMM and the pivot that I anticipate.


Xplore Technologies and Motion Computing: Austin Neighbors Get Cozy

The news that Motion Computing was acquired did not come as much of a surprise, nor the fact that it was acquired by the ever-opportunistic Xplore Technologies. What was striking, however, were the terms of the deal - $9 million cash and assumption of $7 million of Motion Computing’s liabilities. Motion’s struggles with profitability have been widely rumored within the industry, with uneven performance resulting in substantial market share erosion. Motion's share of the growing rugged tablet market shrank by nearly one half over the past 4 years to the low teens in 2014. However, the extent to which it was leveraged and its narrowing margin for error – resulting in such an abrupt deal – came as a shock. Thus, the impact of the Hydis plant closure (Hydis was Motion’s single source supplier for daylight viewable displays) was a critical blow that stopped the company in its tracks as it was unable to fulfill orders for a large share of demand, especially its released - and increasingly popular - R12. With no inventory on hand or opportunity to place a “final order” (as plant workers immediately went on strike following the announcement that the plant was being shuttered), this was ultimately crushing to Motion.

VDC analysts explore the ramifications of this deal and the impact of the consolidating rugged mobile vendor landscape in a recently published VDC View. VDC clients can access the document here


Mobility is Driving Enterprise Collaboration Innovation

Long a bandied-about buzzword, collaboration has gotten an enterprise makeover in recent years in integrating chat and content sharing. The market has emerged from its roots in consumer-grade social networks like Facebook and Twitter to incorporate established enterprise players like IBM, Oracle and SAP, especially after Microsoft’s acquisition of Yammer in 2012. Since then, enterprise-specific social networking products have transformed from more consumer styled chat tools to fully fledged business collaboration platforms that have the potential to replace not only intranets, but knowledge management systems and corporate portals as their features and functionalities continue to expand. The main driving force behind this explosion in innovation has been mobility, both on the consumer and the enterprise front, as the impact of mobile-native millennials entering the workforce grows.

Differentiation in a crowded market

Companies are increasingly coming to understand the value of employee collaboration and of enterprise social networks (ESN), particularly as social media becomes a more integrated part of professional and personal daily life. However, the low barrier to entry has meant that there is an abundance of options available, ranging from consumer-grade chat options to Tier-1 solutions and everything in between. The result is a crowded market with considerable overlap, making it difficult for vendors to differentiate themselves. Although many companies faced with a plethora of options turn to existing solutions providers like IBM, Oracle and Salesforce, there has been room for innovators to disrupt the marketplace. These include companies like Atlassian, Slack and Zimbra, who offer a streamlined, mobile-first approach to collaboration. The sheer number of market players and the stratospheric levels of funding mean that the playing field is wide open with no apparent winners, which in turn is putting pressure on big name vendors to bring powerful collaboration tools to the table.

Appealing to a workforce that spans multiple generations

While the millennial generation has proved to be a significant driving force behind the adoption of more consumer-like collaboration tools in the enterprise, there is a challenge in getting older employees to adapt their work habits to embrace a more fluid approach to work and collaboration. For companies like Tangoe, considering the requirements of an inter-generational workforce has been central to the design and development of their product. In order to overcome resistance to new work processes and collaboration tools, vendors have the ability to introduce adaptive elements that can learn from end-users’ habits, although this presents privacy and security issues that would need to be addressed by the vendor.

Seamless integration is key

There is definite value in areas like user-defined contact preference, one-on-one and group chats, and content sharing, particularly when combined with a mobile-first, device-agnostic approach. This is increasingly becoming the norm across enterprise productivity applications and products. However, to be truly powerful, these solutions must be able to provide a user experience that meets the high expectations of a user base accustomed to consumer products and seamless integration. In an era where many longstanding productivity applications like email are undergoing significant revamps, a lack of integration could lead to a glut of programs and unnecessary app-switching, which is inefficient and cumbersome. Any shortcomings in either category can result in a lack of employee buy-in, or worse, employees resorting to workarounds using consumer-grade programs that lack the necessary security features and risk data leakage. Major players like Microsoft, Salesforce and SAP have done well in integrating their collaboration tools into their portfolio, but the bar has been set high to meet expectations. Given the growing market for enterprise collaboration, however, it is a challenge that a growing number of vendors are willing to accept.

with Kathryn Nassberg, Analyst


Could the Apple Watch be a tipping point for enterprise wearables?

In the days before the official launch of the Apple watch on the 24th and Apple counting nearly a million pre-orders since last Friday, much of the tech world is abuzz with talk about the newest smartwatch to hit the market and the impact it could have on wearables as a genre. Although wearable devices have been on the market for some time, they have failed to garner any notable traction in the consumer market. The question remains as to whether the pricier, designer Apple Watch can be the catalyst for widespread adoption the way its predecessors were for smartphones and tablets and pave the way for greater integration of wearables in the enterprise.

The slow climb towards enterprise acceptance

Despite the current focus on smartwatches, the wearable form factor represents a broad spectrum of devices, particularly in the enterprise, where less consumer-oriented devices like wrist- and hip-mounted computers and ring-mounted scanners are more the norm, as well as head-mounted displays like that of Vuzix and the much-maligned Google Glass. However, the majority of the deployments for these wearables have primarily been for relatively niche applications that have traditionally revolved around data collection-intensive environments like the warehouse, where the benefits of hands-free devices are more immediately tangible. However, with enterprise mobility reaching even the most conservative of companies, interest in wearables is spreading across industry verticals. Notable examples include the healthcare industry, as well as logistics and field services where the benefits of being hands-free are becoming increasingly apparent. While many of these developing use cases have been for head-mounted displays like Google Glass (particularly in logistics and warehousing for vision-based picking applications), it has made enterprises take a more creative approach to equipping their mobile workforce and the benefits to be gained. Data from VDC Research shows that a growing number of industries are evaluating wearables, although the lack of a clear ROI remains one of the primary barriers to adoption.

Finding the killer app

The primary challenge in bringing wearables like the smartwatch into the enterprise is that, unlike other mobile devices, the wearable is not typically a standalone product, but is tethered to another device – usually a smartphone. By acting as a complementary device, it brings up the question as to whether it is truly needed in line of business applications. However, the ISV and development community is bullish on the notion, as evidenced by the growing number of solutions that incorporate smartwatches: last month Good Technology became the first enterprise mobility management (EMM) vendor to support wearables with Good Work, while Salesforce launched Salesforce Wear in the summer of last year as a platform to encourage app development for the form factor. Many of the emerging use cases revolve around hands free notification and ID functionality through NFC and BLE, although EMM vendors like Good Technology see potential for data security through the use of the device in dual-factor authentication and access control. Nevertheless, many of the gains are viewed as incremental and complementary rather than revolutionary, as the introduction of the smartphone and tablet into the workplace has set the bar high.

 Awaiting the tipping point

With thought leaders across the board predicting the explosion of wearables and IoT both in consumer and enterprise markets, it is only a matter of time before wearables as a whole gain more widespread acceptance and, once again, all eyes are on Apple. If the company succeeds as it has in the past in capturing the imagination of the public and the developer community alike, this month’s launch will likely prove the much-anticipated and talked about tipping point for wearables. This, in turn, will bring forth new layers of complexity regarding BYOD and security policies to an already complex environment, especially as the vast majority of devices will be personally-owned for the foreseeable future. In the meantime, April’s launch will determine whether wearables can finally make the transition from consumer trend to enterprise-ready. 

(Research and contributions from Judy Zhang)


Why Content is King on Mobile Platforms

VDC's recent conversations with CIOs indicate that a shift in thinking is underway; organizations recognize that they need to expand their security focus beyond their users and their device(s) to the data both the users and devices have access to. This data-centric security model is helping CIOs and IT leaders to exert greater control and increase their level of comfort with their mobile policies. While protecting data on a server has become par for the course in the enterprise, protecting data in motion is a whole other kettle of fish. The increasing use of mobile devices in the enterprise has employees carrying around (and potentially exposing) more information than ever. A typical mobile device is likely to contain both personal and work-related data – including emails, email attachments, voice mails, text messages, and potentially private corporate data.


Providing access to corporate content is game-changing


The ability to provision and control access of corporate content to mobile platforms represents a significant area of growth, as evidenced by how vendors such as DropBox and Box have seen their subscriber numbers skyrocket as they have made it easy for consumers to access their personal photos, files, and videos on all platforms, regardless of device. However, there are many scenarios for these types of services to be extended into the corporate world so that users have perpetual access to their data and content. What continues to change is the type and volume of content, as well as the places in which content needs to travel to enable business processes. Most large organizations have invested in Enterprise Content Management (ECM) infrastructure, and have terabytes of content siloed in those systems. Mobile access to these repositories has been possible for some time; however, only recently have we seen CIOs feeling more confident in allowing mobile access to this content. This is primarily due to the enhanced security features that mobile-first vendors have implemented in the past 12 months. These vendors have integrated elegant containerization solutions that feature sophisticated authentication mechanisms that can easily interface with existing identity management solutions. Furthermore, the native mobile VPN capabilities on both the iOS and Android platforms continues to improve and evolve, enabling vendors to further enhance the security posture of their solutions and giving the C-suite the peace of mind they require for more advanced mobile enablement.


  Content is King_image

Smaller vendors are leading the way


While EMM vendors have made great progress in integrating robust MCM capabilities into their EMM suites (successful examples include AirWatch (Content Locker), MobileIron (Docs@Work), and Good Technology (Good Share) and innovative startups such as Big Tin Can, Egnyte, and OwnCloud have proven their mettle in the market, it is only a matter of time before large vendors like IBM and Microsoft enter the arena in a meaningful way. Both of these firms have not only made clear intimations on enterprise mobility, but are ready invest significantly to ensure their position; despite progress with Lync and Delve, Microsoft may need to acquire in this space in order to bolster their offerings. Meanwhile, IBM has made strides in MCM with MaaS 360 to provide scalable enterprise mobility solutions. The question remains, however, as to what the impact large vendors will have on smaller, more agile EMM vendors looking to innovate in this space.


 Providing the tools towards a Post-PC era


A variety of tools and solutions have emerged to help address the new mobile workforce challenge ― vendors know a problem exists, as they hear their customers asking for help to deal with the onslaught of data and new forms of mobile content (such as work products from new mobile applications that include forms or images, audio, and video content) that are increasingly common in their organizations. While the ability to discover, search for, view, edit, and annotate an increasingly broad range of content from a mobile platform moves us closer to what many refer to as the post-PC era, it is the incorporation of enterprise features like granular policy control, auditing, and traceability of documents and business content that will give CIOs the peace of mind they need to open up databases and content management systems to their mobile workforce.


 with Eric Klein, Managing Director




Rugged Mobile Market Entering 2015 With a Head of Steam...Sort of

It has been undeniable that the rugged mobile computer market has lost its way over the past several years. Be it the competition from lower-cost consumer devices eroding opportunities or the overall economic malaise, the headwinds facing this sector have been palpable. In 2011, VDC Research published a report suggesting that one-fourth of the rugged market (especially the handheld segment) was at risk from the onslaught of consumer smartphones and tablets. Although the market outcome followed the narrative, the analysis did not fully take into account the market dynamics and the degree to which the market has transformed over the past three years. From sweeping consolidation to massive changes to device design and mobile OS bets, the market has fundamentally changed. 

VDC just published its Q4 2014 and fully year 2014 shipment figures for rugged mobile computing solutions. The highlights from the research include:

  • The overall rugged handheld market was flat in 2014 in comparison to 2013. However, revenue shipments were up 4% in the second half of 2014 and Q4 2014 were up an even more impressive 8.9% over Q4 2013. Although the rebound has been fueled almost entirely by the US market with several large-scale rollouts in the retail and transportation/logistics sectors, we are beginning to see positive momentum in other regional markets. Rugged Android has been a key storyline with major enterprise customers overcoming their tension by placing big bets on these solutions. We anticipate more OS see-sawing in the rugged handheld space, However, with the absence of a viable Microsoft alternative (until Windows 10?), we do expect Android-powered handheld devices to account for more share moving forward.
  • Rugged smartphone shipments grew by 9.8% in 2014 with growing demand in various field mobile segments including construction, utilities, manufacturing and others. Opportunities in public safety are expected to become especially interesting with increasing demand for broadband applications. Specialized solutions with Band 14 support and PTT functionality are starting to show real traction.  
  • The rugged tablet market grew by 17.5% in 2014, recording especially strong growth in Q4 2014. The opportunities were very diverse with strong investments in embedded manufacturing applications and also as a notebook alternative for first responder solutions. A challenge for some of the vendors in the first half of 2015 will come from the closure of a Hydis display factory, which had been providing daylight viewable displays. Navigating this supply chain issue will likely cause some disruption in the first half of the year. 
  • Q4 brought 2014 to a solid close for notebooks with the third consecutive quarter of growth after heavy contractions in 2013. However, with much of the 2014 momentum powered by XP migration initiatives, it will be interesting to see how the market tracks in 2015. So far, we are seeing generally positive indicators for this segment.

Our outlook for rugged mobile solutions through 2015 is generally positive and certainly an improvement over previous years. The market has clearly changed and what will be especially critical for vendors and solution providers that amid the growing noise surrounding enterprise mobility is maintaining focus on the markets and applications where the value proposition of rugged technology can be clearly articulated and supported. 



Does the New SecuTABLET Foreshadow BlackBerry's Transition to Software?

Following a turbulent year which saw sizable contractions and the launch of two new devices, the BlackBerry Passport and the Classic, the company once again made headlines this week with the announcement of its first foray in years into the tablet market after the failure of the ill-fated PlayBook with the unveiling of the SecuTABLET, a high-security tablet based on the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5. Presented in collaboration with IBM at CeBIT 2015, the device is squarely focused on security, with the public sector and security-minded enterprises as its target market. Aiming for the highest levels of security, the device, which has been designed with European governments in mind, is currently undergoing certification for a German VS-NfD (classified – for official use only) rating, making it one of the most secure tablets to enter the market in an era where concerns around data leakage and breaches continue to grow. The tablet marks a notable departure for BlackBerry, as this represents the first device from the company that does not feature proprietary hardware or OS. 

A powerful enterprise partnership

As noted in BlackBerry’s press release, a study from IBM’s Institute for Business Value (IBV) found that 63% of public authorities want mobile access to mission critical apps, but the level of security required through legally mandated restrictions towards data privacy present a considerable obstacle. As a result, there is a dearth of solutions that fit a “government-grade” level of security demanded by the public sector. To address the gap, BlackBerry has worked to form a partnership with some of the best-in-class solutions providers to create a turn-key, secure tablet solution that meets stringent security requirements. The device features recent acquisition SecuSmart’s security architecture and secure SD card and driver, in addition to the trusted execution environment protections from Samsung’s KNOX platform, and is complemented by Apperian’s secure app store and app-wrapping capabilities. The latter’s app management, which has proven itself to be best-in-class and speaks to the firm’s strength in the MAM category. Meanwhile, IBM brings considerable industry-specific expertise to the table, as well as the ability to bring mobile solutions to a wide array of both regional and vertical environments.

Embracing the niche

Despite a high price point of €2,250 (US$2,380), the move represents a smart and positive development for BlackBerry, which has struggled to maintain enterprise relevance in the face of steep declines in market share against Android and iOS devices. By teaming with Samsung, not only can BlackBerry offload the hardware requirements in bringing the SecuTABLET to market, it also can take advantage of a considerably larger user and application base than would be available to its own proprietary OS, whose market share has dwindled to single digits in recent years. If anything, this strategy holds significantly more potential as it allows BlackBerry to pivot away from its hardware roots While it is still too early to tell, preliminary guidance reveal tepid adoption rates of its smartphones that mean any attempts to regain general market share will be an uphill struggle at best. By focusing on the niche that is government and high-security enterprise, BlackBerry can leverage its differentiation through high-level security to its advantage, especially with its acquisition of Secusmart. However, while there have been competing solutions from the likes of Motorola’s AME 2000 and Apple, through its collaborations with KoolSpan and its own Root of Trust to provide similar hardware-based solutions, BlackBerry’s traditional strength in the public sector and the sophistication of the SecuTABLET solution will offer a meaningful point of differentiation to help it withstand the competition.

With Eric Klein, Managing Director


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