48 posts categorized "Industry Events"

01/22/2015

A Return to Innovation as Microsoft Lifts the Veil at Windows 10 Event

 

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Yesterday saw Microsoft reveal more details about the upcoming Windows 10 OS. After two years of limited success with Windows 8, Microsoft has sought to recapture its audience with a return to the familiar with the reintroduction of the Start button as an integral feature, as well as expanding the system to serve as a unified platform across all form factors. In addition to improving the functionality of the Action Center, Windows 10 will also incorporate Cortana across form factors, including the PC. With this suite of features and improvements, Microsoft hopes that it can leverage its position as market leader among PCs to increase its mobile market share, which has languished in the single digits since launching.

Shifting towards a unified experience

One of the more profound elements to Windows 10 is that, unlike Windows 8, the OS moves beyond a limited set of devices to encompass a much broader spectrum of options. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella emphasized this point, stating that the notion of mobility that the firm is pursuing is not so much about mobility of computing on a given device, but rather, “the mobility of experience across devices.” Taking cues from how Apple has moved to allow for seamless transitioning between devices with applications, Microsoft aims to increase the fluidity of the OS experience as it continues its shift towards its goal of “Windows-as-a-service.” This is a much-needed transition for Microsoft, which has struggled to overcome a reactionary approach to the market, especially as end-users are frequently looking to take their work from one form factor to the next. The reality is one where the device itself is becoming less central to the process, as the market for current enterprise form factors has matured considerably, becoming fairly homogenous in the process.

The return of the prodigal OS

There has been considerable buzz around Windows 10 among both consumer and enterprise end-users. For the latter, it has been a prolonged period of wait and see; there has been a reluctance to adopt Android due to concerns around security, the complexity of migrating legacy applications, and considerable OS fragmentation. Nevertheless, Tier-1 and Tier-2 companies in North America are following their European counterparts’ lead in overcoming their reluctance to adopt Android. Still – many express a desire for Windows. If Microsoft can provide the OS to enterprise in a timely manner, the move could sap much of Android’s enterprise momentum, especially in the rugged sphere, as 2015 increasingly looks to be a key turning point for the enterprise market. Microsoft’s announcement that the OS will be provided gratis to users of Windows 7 and 8 will likely help the OS gain traction quickly.

 Windows 10 beefs up its EMM capabilities

While Microsoft has struggled with its mobile initiatives in recent years, its long history serving the technology infrastructure needs of large organizations puts Microsoft in a strong position to deliver enterprise mobility solutions in the coming years. With its upcoming Windows 10 release, Microsoft plans key security enhancements and options that are requisite in heterogeneous mobile deployment environments. The Windows 10 release will feature sophisticated containerization capabilities that will give enterprises more control over their content, allowing for content to be marked as corporate, encrypted, and then be wiped if the relationship between the corporation and user has ended. Preventing data leakage has been a key area of focus in Windows 10; corporate data can be identified as corporate vs. user, encrypted, and wiped on command. The 10 release will further expand into biometric capabilities and enable authentication with your biometric identity anywhere in Windows (Windows sign-in, remote access, User Account Control, etc.). App management features also take advantage of 10's biometrics and can be incorporated for Windows Store apps, functions within them, and be used to control certificates.  VDC sees the aforementioned containerization features and a refresh of its System Center Configuration Manager software (along with ensuring the legacy SCCM 2007 release is compatible with Windows 10) as critical success factors; Microsoft’s Intune device management platform must also evolve and incorporate more cross platform capabilities. We expect tight integration of its prolific Microsoft products (Outlook, Office, and SharePoint) in the 10 release – if Microsoft can deliver the consistent and familiar experience across platforms that it promises, the vendor will almost be guaranteed to be a viable contender in the enterprise mobility market.

Bringing innovation back

Microsoft topped off its Windows 10 event with by revealing the HoloLens, an augmented reality HUD that incorporates holographs and floating video feed capabilities for enhanced two-way communication. Although still in its infancy, the technology presents enterprise potential, much in the way that mounted wearables are currently testing the waters. While the payoff for Microsoft will likely be far from immediate, it marks a profound shift for the firm and a decisive break from the Ballmer era and a transition back towards innovation. In a rapidly shifting market where older firms like HP and BlackBerry are struggling to remain relevant, Microsoft is keen to shed its image as a reactionary relic of a bygone era. Yesterday’s announcement is definitely a step in the right direction. 

 

With Eric Klein, Senior Analyst

01/15/2015

Meet w/ VDC's Mobile Team at #MWC15!

#MWC15 is <6 weeks away!
 
VDC's mobile team will be making the trip across the Atlantic again this year to visit the largest mobile technology tradeshow of the year, Mobile World Congress in Bacelona, Spain. Last year, the conference boasted 85,916 attendees! Below are the statistics from last year's event:
 
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While we are at the conference, we welcome the opportunity to meet with attending vendors to learn more about their enterprise mobility solutions and any show-related (or other recent) announcements.

Feel free to contact us directly to arrange for a meeting:

Eric Klein: eklein@vdcresearch.com (@eakleiner), 508.653.9000 x141
David Krebs: davidk@vdcresearch.com (@dm_krebs), 508.653.9000 x136

Haven't decided if you're attending MWC yet?

Check out the Mobile World Congress website for more information on the conference program as well as information on all of the companies that will be exhibiting.

We look forward to seeing you at the show!

01/14/2015

VDC’s Mobile NRF Recap

With a show the scale of NRF there is no shortage of topics to address, so our focus will be on mobile solutions that struck us as particularly unique or crafty. The broad themes were largely an extension of topics introduced over the last couple of years: The "connected" and "in-control" customer; seamless "omni-channel" experiences; two-way "sharing" of information. While there clearly are retail visionaries who are daring and "get it" – like Cole Haan and the access they are providing their customers to in-store inventory or Outfittery, with its innovative focus on personalized curation - there seems to still be a lot of unsubstantiated noise. Among the IT meta-trends of big data, analytics and IoT, the retail sector is - surprisingly - behind when compared to other industries. While there is a lot of data being collected and analysis conducted, deriving meaningful value remains a challenge to most. From a purely mobile perspective, some of the dominant themes centered on mobile payments, the continued mobile platform wars and the shifting competitive landscape.

Mobile payments remain a central theme to NRF, especially as the push for EMV continues and OEMS are moving to adopt systems that integrate chip and pin readers. Verifone, the leading mobile payment and POS solutions provider in North America has taken a modular approach that is both device- and platform-agnostic, simplifying the certification process and enabling the company to partner with a wide array of mobile OEMs such as Samsung and Apple and leaving the mobile question in the hands of the retailer. Given the multitude of platforms that are increasingly becoming the norm in enterprise and in front-of-store retail and the shortening lifecycle for deployed devices, this provides Verifone much-needed flexibility to remain at the forefront of mobile payment solutions. From Verifone’s perspective what was also interesting and unique was its continued shift towards software and services with its Secure Commerce Architecture the most impactful for retailers. This solution provides a point to point encryption approach that directly transmits card data to the processor without touching the retailer’s POS system. At the other end of the mobile payments spectrum, Panasonic has introduced one of the first fully integrated mPOS devices in the Toughpad FZ-R1, which combines a 7” all-in-one tablet running full Windows 8.1 with a dedicated PCI compliant mobile payment element supporting chip and pin and with an encrypted mag stripe option in a semi-rugged casing. While the price point of the device will be a challenge for Panasonic, this does provide them with a clear differentiation and inroads into other segments beyond quick serve restaurants.

Another dominant theme that permeated the convention is the continuation of the mobile platform wars in retail at all levels. Mobile strategies by retailers over the past several years have favored Apple’s iOS powered devices and more recently Android-based smartphones and tablets supporting a variety of ‘customer facing’ applications. Rugged handheld devices, prominent for scan-intensive inventory management applications, suffered this shift in focus and were further marginalized by Microsoft’s inability to provide an adequate and timely transition strategy to next generation platforms for these devices. While the legacy Windows Mobile 6.x/Embedded CE platforms remain perfectly suitable for many of the applications they are supporting, especially for more keyboard-centric solutions such as those prevalent in the warehouse. However, when it comes to more touch-centric devices, these platforms really do not stack up with iOS and Android. A blurry OS strategy evolved with rugged OEMs shifting focus towards Android. While Android has faced an uphill battle in the enterprise and especially on rugged devices – issues relating to persistent wireless connectivity a frequent frustration among end users – 2014 represented somewhat of a breakthrough year for rugged Android handheld devices in the retail sector, especially in North America. ISV support of Android was reaching critical mass, enterprise support on a broad or horizontal level was improving and in Home Depot the first benchmark account emerged. We expect that momentum to continue into 2015. While Windows Embedded Handheld 8 was scrapped almost as quickly as it was introduced, 8.1 showed some promise. However with only Panasonic and Bluebird introducing devices, options remain limited. Honeywell appears to also be throwing its hat in the ring with a WEH8.1 device slotted for Q2 2015. However, the sense that we got was that there would be another round of “wait and see” on the Microsoft front with vendors and end users pointing to Windows 10. Make no mistake, there is a vested interest among several accounts – especially in North America – for a strong Microsoft option for rugged handheld devices. It is just taking a lot longer to materialize.

An interesting wrinkle in the OS/architecture debate for handheld devices was introduced by BSQUARE with its MobileV reference platform. MobileV is a complete hardware and software reference solution based on Intel architecture and Windows Embedded 8.1. The software enables screen resolutions compatible with displays ranging from 3.5” and up. In other words x86 and big Windows on a handheld device. Together with partner AAVA, a Finnish mobile device manufacturer, they presented a 5” handheld/tablet and 7” tablet based on MobileV. There has been growing discussion and interest in this option in the market. However, from a BOM and power performance perspective, it will be a challenge for solutions and applications traditionally supported by rugged handheld devices today and will likely take more time to be viable outside of select niche use cases.

The overall competitive landscape within retail is shifting, as merged companies seek to realign their brand and established firms look to take on a more direct relationship with end-users. For the former, Zebra is a prime example, following its headline-grabbing acquisition of Motorola Solutions’ enterprise business in 2014. Traditionally a back-of-store company, Zebra is putting in significant effort and funding to establish a more customer-facing retail presence, not only with the Motorola device portfolio, but in shop floor solutions that leverages its Zatar IoT platform. While futuristic and eye-catching, these technologies will require considerable consumer opt-in to really take off in a meaningful way. However, their offerings of in-store analytics to measure foot traffic and dwell time fit squarely into a growing market that is seeing competition from all sides, including Samsung and AT&T. Samsung could prove to be a serious contender as it has increasingly focused its attention to enterprise in wake of considerable contraction from its consumer devices. The firm’s brand recognition, strengthening Android security and broad retail partnership portfolio should expose Samsung to increased retail opportunity.

with David Krebs, EVP

09/23/2014

AT&T‘s 2020 Vision and Digital First Transformation

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VDC had the opportunity to attend AT&T’s annual Analyst Summit last week in Dallas, Texas, and came away with a clear purview into the company’s mobile ambitions moving forward. The company issued several notable news releases to coincide with the event — the announcements all show that AT&T is moving in a coordinated way to ensure its participation in the ever expanding mobile ecosystem. In this vein, AT&T’s executives did a great job in articulating how the company’s network build commitment (project VIP) along with its digital-first strategy would help lead its customers toward the business transformational opportunity of mobile enablement.

The releases covered a variety of strategic areas of focus for AT&T:

Secure Cloud Access: Through a strategic partnership with IBM, AT&T revealed that it can now offer its customers on-demand access to IBM’s SoftLayer (IBM’s cloud infrastructure as a service and managed hosting platform) through its network-enabled cloud solution (NetBond). The service will give both companies’ customers the ability to dynamically allocate VPN bandwidth and allow them to scale their IT resources and to expand their hybrid cloud solutions. (AT&T also has established key partnerships for its NetBond offering with Amazon, Box, CSC, Equinix, HP, Microsoft, Salesforce.com, and VMware). The service will be generally available in Q1 of 2015 (Whirlpool was mentioned as an early adopter that has begun to take advantage of the new service offering).

“Network on Demand”: AT&T announced a self-service portal that will allow business customers to add and change network services in near real time (In 90 seconds, according to John Donovan, AT&T’s SVP of Architecture, Technology and Operations.) Even though they would benefit from access to higher bandwidth circuits, many of AT&T’s customers are not doing so, despite the declining cost of bandwidth — we see bandwidth on demand solutions like AT&T’s as a great solution to this problem, as many companies are paying for bandwidth they are not using on a regular basis.

API platform enhancements: The company is wisely looking for ways to give its resellers and partners all of the tools they need to create applications and value-added services (e.g., giving them the ability to customize the quoting and ordering experience for their sales teams and business customers).

Not Much of a Toggle Update

While AT&T Toggle containerization solution was mentioned, there was no deep dive provided – this was disappointing. However, Sundhar Annamalai, a key executive in the Advanced Solutions Business did articulate to us how carriers such as AT&T have a distinct advantage, due to their ability to complement the solution with elements such as split billing and deeply integrate with complementary services, such as Box, using their NetBond solution.

Business Solutions + Mobility Means Cloud First for AT&T

Most of AT&T’s senior leadership participated at this event – we were impressed with their ability to stay on message and agree that enhancing their cloud capabilities and partner ecosystem will be critical for their ability to service the 2020 workforce that they envision. AT&T’s new mobility chief, Glenn Lurie, discussed the rapid evolution of mobility, and shared details of the progress AT&T has made with their connected car platform — named Drive — which was launched at CES earlier this year. Lurie’s speech was accompanied by a forward-looking video that showcased AT&T Digital Life strategy and was demonstrative of how important the company’s transition to an all-digital, IP-based network will be, moving forward.  We see the Digital Life solution as an interesting SMB offering moving forward. The solution began as a relatively basic home automation solution that featured a connected thermostat as its foundational solution component, but it is without question moving into vehicles. Lurie spoke of our devices as being “remote controls” for our lives — very compelling indeed. AT&T will need to continue to develop its cloud ecosystem to move many of its key initiatives forward — it was clear that this was in the works.

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“Our vision is to smartly connect companies and people in all major industries … from GM cars to GE locomotives and medical technologies, we are making those connections and seizing the opportunity both here in the U.S. and globally.”

President and CEO of AT&T Mobile and Business Solutions

GE – Long Time and Key Customer

GE Software’s GM, Brad Surak, discussed how his company was moving forward with its initiatives to reinvent its future services portfolio by leveraging global connectivity in using AT&T’s Global SIM technology and network to optimize the transport of industrial data. Surak showed compelling data of how GE is “driving outcomes that matter”. While our market data consistently shows how large the opportunity is to instrument equipment from an end-user perspective, Surak shared revenue metrics that showed just how significant the opportunity can potentially be moving forward. Examples Surak showed included: the $27B opportunity globally to increasing freight utilization by reducing system inefficiency; the massive $60B+ opportunities to take advantage of predictive maintenance and diagnostics to reduce process inefficiencies in healthcare and the energy sector by reducing waste in gas-fired power plants. The data source was not cited, but it demonstates why technology investments and infrastructure modernization must become top strategic priorities and play a key role moving forward. In that vein, transforming processes was a big theme — Abhi Ingle, who is charged with running AT&T Advanced Solutions business, showed how solutions such as enhanced push-to-talk will continue to play an important role in improving collaboration and why field solutions will continue to be key business for AT&T. We agree, and see field service automation solutions taking on new important capabilities due to mobile technologies, which will continue to alter the core capabilities of field services personnel.

Wrap

The event was well rounded with corporate strategy, product plans, client perspectives, and breakout sessions that provided an additional level of insights in key areas of the business including Cloud, Small Business, Mobility, Security and M2M, just to name a few. All in all, the trip to Dallas was time well spent and has us looking forward to the developer event that AT&T hosts each January, prior to CES.

09/15/2014

Event Recap: AirWatch Connect

Connecting the Ecosystem

I had the opportunity to attend and present at AirWatch Connect event last week in Atlanta. The event attracted 1,500 of the company's customers and partners who were eager to learn more about AirWatch’s vision for long-term growth. The fact that the company was able draw nearly every big name enterprise-oriented mobility vendor to its event was impressive given that CTIA's marquee event (Super Mobility Week) was taking place at the same time.

Since its acquisition by VMware earlier this year, AirWatch has continued on a considerable growth path, with a roughly 50% uptick to its customer roster (from 7,000 to 13,000) and a strong pipeline heading into Q4. Based on this progress, the product enhancements that were shared, and discussions with AirWatch and VMware executives, it is clear that the company is successfully implementing ways in which to further engage with its tenured customers and expand their deployments beyond basic MDM to more sophisticated mobile offerings, such as its containerization and secure content locker solutions.

AirWatch CEO John Marshall's keynote set the stage for the company's executive vision, described as utilizing innovation within its mobility platform and solution portfolio to assist customers in solving business problems (tight integration with best-of-breed and complementary go-to-market partners is also a key strength for the company). AirWatch made several announcements to broaden its opportunity and move customers (both current and prospective) along on their mobile journeys.

Seamless Integration with an Expanded Roster of Partners

Details of the company's plan to partner with mobile app development vendors were revealed - the program (named AppShield) will help to ensure that mobile app development platform products will work seamlessly with AirWatch's MAM SDK and app wrapping tools. Partners announced included Adobe, Appcelerator, Kony, MicroStrategy, Oracle, salesforce.com, Sencha, Telerik and Xamarin. AirWatch also shared details of its next generation of email solutions (AirWatch Inbox) which features extended security capabilities and improved usability (key improvements include a one-click dial-in for conference calls, and an optimized experience for iPad users) the solution also now features S/MIME for secure and encrypted messaging.

AirWatch also showcased its solution for managing desktops (specifically Macs); the demonstration noticeably impressed the audience, as it made managing and provisioning a Mac for a new user look both seamless and intuitive. Finally, the company revealed a new solution for the education market with tools designed specifically for teachers such as All Eyes Up Front, which temporarily disables devices to draw attention to the front of the classroom - the solution also allows teachers to create virtual classes and lock students into specific apps to keep the focus on education and eliminate distractions from games, videos and social networking. To its credit, AirWatch began focusing on the education vertical early on - the strategy has clearly payed off, as the company has secured several of the largest educational institutions as customers (including the largest, the Los Angeles United School District).

Mobile Managed Services win

Finally, Marshall revealed that VMware had secured a strategic partnership with Capgemini ― this is notable for Airwatch as the company will integrate VMware’s end-user computing solutions (including AirWatch's EMM) with its mobility consulting, application development and system integration expertise. We expect AirWatch (through VMware) to continue to expand its relationships with companies like Capgemini moving forward (coincidentally, HP was very visible and a major sponsor at Connect).

Marshall also described two new capabilities which VDC sees as key for its customer base moving forward - AirWatch Chat and AirWatch Video. Chat will bring customers the ability to communicate instantly and securely while ensuring that company information remains secure. Chat will be an attractive and complementary solution for AirWatch's customers in regulated industries. Similarly, AirWatch Video will give users the ability to share and view videos and will provide customers with a more effective way to push videos to their employees (training immediately comes to mind). Administrators can manage permission content and set expiration dates for videos, while employees can download videos for offline viewing. We expect both of these solutions to be integrated into the company's mobile workspace solution as well as integrate will with Secure Content Locker.

Entering the "Post PC Era"

I delivered a keynote on the Post PC Era, which proved timely and apropos given the attendee profile at Connect. I led off by asking the audience to raise their hands if they were frustrated with the pace of mobile enablement at their company (mind you that most of the companies represented at this event were very likely to be well along on their mobile journey)  and more than half of the room had their hands raised. While not surprising, it nevertheless speaks to the large opportunity ahead for companies like AirWatch and in the enterprise mobility ecosystem in general. While key AirWatch customers such as CSX, Pepsi, Stryker, Target, and United Airlines shared details of the evolution and expansion of their mobile initiatives, the wide majority of businesses we speak with still have a quite a ways to go particularly regarding mobilizing their backends and developing customer mobile applications for their workforce. With its new host of partners and solution refinement that were laid out at Connect, has made the case that it is prepared to help organizations in the post-PC era.

09/10/2014

Apple advances but doesn't revolutionize mobile payments, wearables

Yesterday saw the announcement of both the iPhone 6 and Apple Watch in Cupertino with considerable fanfare (and technical streaming issues).  Moving further away from Jobs’ dictate of a smaller screen, Apple has taken its cue from Samsung and the general smartphone market by offering both a 4.7” and 5.5” – marking its first foray into the phablet range. A relative late entrant to the market, the iPhone 6 will likely nevertheless help to recapture some of the market share that it has previously lost to Android which now accounts for more than 80% of the total smartphone market worldwide versus Apple’s 12%. While Apple’s market share is considerably higher in the US, it has slipped considerably in recent years as previous iPhone iterations have become increasingly incremental.

Boosting mobile payments

While the iPhone 6 boasts a host of improvements in display, battery life and thinness, the biggest enterprise news is in the inclusion of NFC and the introduction of Apple Pay.  Although NFC is not new technology, it has yet to gain mainstream traction as a means of mobile payment. NFC penetration in smartphones has begun to reach critical mass within the last generation of smartphones, with Apple being one of the last major holdouts. With the capability gaining momentum, VDC anticipates that NFC-enabled smartphone shipments are likely to reach 400-500 million in 2014. However, to date, while the technology is there, mobile payments have not taken off to a large extent, as evidenced by the relatively low take-up from Isis Wallet (now SoftCard). This has been primarily a function the trifecta of the lack of NFC-enabled payment infrastructure at checkout stations, general customer disinterest and smartphone shares that are only just reaching critical mass now. However, the sheer force of Apple’s cachet and its ability to bring partners like Target, Starbucks, McDonalds, Macy’s, and Bloomingdale’s could help to update a payment system that CEO Tim Cook noted is 50 years old. But despite the fact that the one-touch payment system shares no credit card information with the merchant and numbers are not stored on the phone, there are nevertheless concerns about the security of Apple Pay, especially in light of the recent security questions surrounding Apple and iCloud last week, in which celebrities' photos were stolen en masse. Given the sheer volume of credit card information that Apple holds and the rise in security breaches within companies like Target and, more recently, Home Depot, these are not idle concerns. With these recent breaches, retailers are on high alert and at least appear to want to do something to secure payments and are finally committing to upgrading their solutions.

The Apple Pay factor

Despite the potential of an NFC-enabled iPhone and the introduction of Apple Pay, the latter is not quite the disruptive move that many had anticipated or hoped for. Instead, Apple is largely taking on the role of enabler/facilitator and working directly with major banks and credit card issuers. While the revenue play for Apple in this scenario is limited, the option provides the greatest near-term boost to mobile payments. One outstanding question that remains is whether Apple Pay will/can directly link checking accounts as a payment option, as PIN code entry becomes an issue.

The wearable people might actually want to wear

With a hint of Jobsian flair, Cook announced that Apple did in fact have one more thing – the announcement of the highly anticipated, much-discussed smartwatch, simply named the Apple Watch. Staying true to its roots in product design, the device seeks to avoid the current hurdle of smartwatches being viewed as miniaturized smartphones strapped to the wrist. Although Apple emphasized the Watch’s high degree of customization, the company remained quiet on the topics of display resolution and, more importantly, battery life. Despite the current lack of specifications, the Apple watch has integrated key features that VDC believes are central to the success of the form factor: namely, the designing of a product that has a markedly different interface and means of interaction than other mobile devices. By supplementing the capacitive touch screen with a navigation wheel/home button dubbed the “digital crown”, the Apple Watch provides a simple and elegant solution to navigation while keeping the display un-obscured. More importantly, though, Apple will be making the API available to developers to create a host of applications that are specific to the form factor. As VDC will be discussing in depth in its report on wearable devices later this month, it is the combination of a rich application development ecosystem and relaying of contextual information in a format optimized for mini-interactions that will be the key to success not just for the Apple Watch, but for wearables as a whole. What remains to be seen, though, is the extent the Apple Watch will succeed as a wearable, given that the device – like other smartwatches with the notable exception of the Samsung Gear S – remains tethered to the smartphone and does not function as a standalone product. Although Apple has engineered and designed a strong product, the market has yet to see a true killer app emerge to solidify the form factor.  Nevertheless, the integration of NFC also adds potential to the device that, along with the other aforementioned capabilities, could help make smartwatches finally gain the traction needed to transition to fad to mainstream form factor with far-reaching opportunities within an enterprise setting.  

(with David Krebs, Executive Vice President)

08/28/2014

Now VMWare is thinking with Portals

 ... the opportunities to provision applications securely and on the fly is truly revolutionary and a possibility if VMware can integrate and evolve the technologies it has acquired.

Today marks the last day of VMWorld, VMware’s annual conference located in San Francisco. One of the key announcements came on Wednesday with the unveiling of the VMware Workspace Suite, which includes desktop virtualization, identity management, and app, device and data management. The package features many elements from its AirWatch acquisition, including Secure Content Locker and mobile management software. A central element to the package is the Workspace Portal, which enables mobile users to access Windows applications, cloud services and web apps from a single, centralized location.

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Imitation as a source of flattery…or confusion

Many people are noting the similarities between its new product suite and that of Citrix, which bears the exact same name. Citrix has taken note and took the opportunity to release a blog of its own – Imitation is never as good as the original – claiming that “It is often said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. And after reviewing VMware’s new announcement of Workspace Suite, all I can say is that all of us at Citrix are extremely flattered,”  before enumerating a point-by-point comparison of the two products.

However, despite creating a seeming workspace doppelganger, VMware is also likely to see increasing competition from Dell, which launched its own desktop virtualization solution, vWorkspace. Originally known as Quest Software, it was acquired by Dell in 2012 and offers additional features like support for Linux VMs and EOP protocol.

The Mobile Cloud Era: “Desktops Re-imagined and Inspired by Mobility”

VMware is weaving together technologies that have the potential to upend traditional end user computing deployment environments. The company’s recent acquisitions (AirWatch, Desktone, and CloudVolumes) are demonstrative of the mobile cloud era that VMware sees us entering. VDC agrees, and we believe that we are in the early days of a coming disruption in IT service delivery and the way organizations provision and manage devices for their workforce. While the adoption of virtualization technologies like those from VMware is limited, the opportunities to provision applications both securely and on the fly is truly revolutionary and a realistic possibility ifVMware can integrate and evolve the technologies it has acquired. We see the opportunity for cost savings and the flexibility that VMware has the potential to offer giving the firm a notable opportunity moving forward. VMware’s vision of delivery innovation as a service – from the data center to the desktop and mobile applications –are now a possibility; time will tell if end users are ready for it.

(With Kathryn Nassberg, Analyst)

06/27/2014

Google I/O kicks wearable device talk into high gear

June has been a big month for consumer wearable devices – it has seen the Salesforce announce the launch of Salesforce Wear to help build up a wearable-specific ecosystem geared primarily towards smartwatches and augmented vision devices. This month also saw Samsung’s announcement of the Samsung Z – the first smartphone to run on its proprietary Tizen OS, establishing a single platform for its growing family of Gear smartwatches, including the Gear 2, the Neo and the Gear Fit. However, the biggest buzz has come from this week’s announcements at Google’s I/O developer conference. Google had announced its wearable specific OS, Android Wear, in March, but gave more insight this week as to its capabilities and scope. 

Google sees the world moving from your fingertips to your wrist

Contextual data proved a central theme at the presentation for Android Wear. Sundar Pichai, SVP for Android, Chrome and Apps noted that “people check their phones more than 150 times a day,” noting that these interactions often centered on simple pieces of information that require numerous steps, such as unlocking and entering passwords, to access. Google’s answer is to provide this information “quickly, at a glance,” and to supplement the process with voice-activated queries and commands using the familiar, “OK, Google” prompt. Improvements in contextual voice-based software from Apple, Google, and Microsoft for smartphones will be a major component of the new generation of smartwatches on the horizon, given the limited display size and interaction options. The trick, however, will be in balancing voice-activated and touch-based interactions that function seamlessly together and quickly; most interactions for the form factor take place within a 15-20 second timeframe.

As with smartphones, applications are key

For smartwatches and other wearable form factors to move beyond fitness-based fads, OEMs will need to support application development by providing APIs releasing SDKs to developers to support tighter and deeper integration. In the same way that desktop applications could not simply be shrunk down to work on a smartphone, mobile applications will need to be tailored to work with specific wearable form factors in a way that pairs well with other devices, such as smartphones and tablets. Having a robust selection of apps will help wearables to enter a broader slice of daily life and work to overcome the current social discomfort surrounding the devices (cue the numerous references to Dick Tracy or the Borg with Google Glass, or other augmented reality heads up displays). VDC looks in depth at this trend and the implications for enterprise wearables in this month’s VDC View.

 

05/05/2014

Event Recap ― IBM Impact

VDC had the opportunity to attend IBM’s Impact event in Las Vegas last week ― the event was well attended (~9,000 attendees) and featured hundreds of breakout sessions that spanned a broad range of technologies. A key theme at the event was what the company described as its ability to help companies become “composable businesses”.

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The company's keynote speakers were very much in sync with this message and articulated how IBM was positioned to provide its customers with a path to transform their business and help them embrace the “ecosystem of everything.” Throughout Impact, IBM showcased how it had expanded its portfolio of cloud-oriented solutions with analytics, big data and mobile solutions and how customers could benefit from the ecosystem of innovation it has assembled. The company's message: it can provide the flexibility and speed that are required to overcome the challenges which every business will ultimately face as the shift to digital services impacts their IT infrastructure. This building block approach will enable customers to piece together what’s needed quickly and effectively to solve rapidly changing business problems. IBM identifies four service types in this environment:

  • Infrastructure services such as those from Softlayer
  • Business services in the more general SaaS portfolio
  • Defined pattern services such as its PureApplication services
  • Composable services (PaaS) such as BlueMix

MobileFirst and Customers Front and Center

IBM's MobileFirst GM Marie Wieck talked about design thinking, and the need to train development teams to think first about engaging with mobile. She identified several success factors for mobile enablement that were on point:

  • Mobile interactions will increasingly transition to mobile transactions
  • Must support secure, effective, real-time transactions not just interactions
  • Not just mobile analytics, also customer analytics
  • Use mobile analytics to improve outcomes whenever possible
  • Must be iterative and rapidly evolve applications
  • Business rules are required to iterate business logic

There were some great examples of mobile enablement scenarios which featured prominent customers and partners that tied well to Wieck’s success factors. Tangerine Bank discussed how they use technology to redefine and simplify banking for their customers. Tangerine shared details on how it has raised the bar in mobile banking and has transformed into a mobile-first bank (key product enhancements mentioned were voice activation and offline access).  In working with IBM, the company was able to shorten its mobile development cycle using IBM's PureApplication System. Tangerine was able to quickly develop, test and deploy repeatable patterns, access the Worklight programming environment, use Bluemix for testing and QA, and take advantage of the API catalog to manage their internal services.

IBM's SVP of Software and Cloud Solutions Robert LeBlanc cited Tangerine as an example of the shift to a completely digital economy where companies are increasingly using mobile and cloud for computing, unbundling their business offerings and where new “killer apps” have the potential to disrupt any industry.

In this vein, IBM made sure that the most visible announcement out of Impact was its marketplace. The company has curated a site that is designed to pull IBM and third party services into solutions to help customers easily find them. Solutions range from standard business, development and operational services (new SaaS and composable services on BlueMix and Softlayer will be a focus going forward). This capability was required when considering the new style of purchasing that many companies are starting to engage in, and gives IBM a mechanism to help its partners gain influence.

Still a Long Road for Many to True Mobile Enablement

IBM was also intent on demonstrating that its products can work well together, and how it can transition organizations from legacy data centers to a modern IT architecture. The company spoke about how it is beginning to see evidence within its larger customers that mobility is becoming more strategic with more senior sponsors getting involved (something that we’ve all been waiting to see). In response, IBM has taken a managed services approach to best position themselves to help quickly (a wise move given the company's Global Services capabilities). The company has also been focused on training its business process consultants and partners on its MobileFirst solution portfolio to make sure that process solutions are being mobilized if and when the opportunity presents itself. IBM's industry specific Ready Apps were also showcased ― these starter kits will be useful and can definitely help customers accelerate their mobile enablement initiatives.

While many organizations are certainly striving to modernize their infrastructure and are in the process of iterating and re-architecting their business processes the reality is that logistics networks, supplier relationships, product and service design and customer service have and will continue to be in a state of flux. Any path to sustainable competitive advantage will require a high degree of operational adaptability. IBM certainly has assembled a portfolio of products and services that can help, but engraining mobile solutions into their workflows and business processes will take time, and getting key stakeholders within lines of business, IT leaders and developers to collaborate is difficult.

IBM has enhanced its opportunity in the enterprise with its MobileFirst initiative, with key acquisitions (Cloudant, Fiberlink, SoftLayer, and Worklight) figuring prominantly; however, significant integration work remains. IBM must demonstrate to its customers that it can help to simplify and streamline app development by mobilizing existing apps (backend integration) and help to build next generation apps.

02/28/2014

Unpacking Samsung’s MWC – Enterprise Implications

VDC met with Samsung at Mobile World Congress this week in Barcelona to discuss the company’s take on enterprise mobility as it announced the launch of the much-anticipated Galaxy S5. The smartphone, with its IP-67 rating for dust and water resistance is the second in Samsung’s lineup for a more ruggedized consumer device after the S4 Active. The latest product in the Galaxy family is leading the trend towards more durable, enterprise-oriented smartphones that continue to blur the line between consumer and enterprise devices that will only turn up the heat further on ruggedized OEMs, who are facing increased competition from their consumer-grade counterparts. In addition to a more ruggedized build, the S5 boats other enterprise-friendly security features such as two-factor authentication that incorporates both password and biometric verification, and the inclusion of its KNOX mobile security solution.

Refining mobile device management with KNOX 2.0

Although KNOX was originally announced at last year’s Mobile World Congress and launched in October of last year, Samsung has brought the security solution back into the headlines with the software’s second iteration as KNOX 2.0, which boasts a compliment of features like cloud-based enterprise mobility management (EMM) targeted at SMBs, a dedicated Knox Marketplace for enterprise applications, and support for third-party containers, such as Good Technology, MobileIron and Fixmo. While the newest version of the solution does not require applications to be wrapped (due to kernel enhancements) in order to work with KNOX, we wonder whether apps will need to be modified in order to work, and whether this could pose a potential problem for Samsung down the road.

As of yet, the activation rate remains modest, with 1 million user activations to date out of the 25 million devices that feature KNOX capabilities on the market today, although the manufacturer revealed to the media that it now see a monthly activation rate 210,000 devices. KNOX 2.0 firmly underscores Samsung’s belief in the solution’s potential in an enterprise setting, as the firm currently has 2,000 engineers working on KNOX and has partnered with 42 carriers globally to provide the solution.

Building a greater service presence

While Samsung has made considerable inroads into enterprise mobility with its hardware and MDM solutions, there are still considerable gaps on the service side that will need to be addressed, especially in looking to service Tier-1, multinational firms. Samsung has handily proven that it has the hardware capabilities to be successful with consumers, but to truly be successful in the quest to become more enterprise-friendly, it will need to get closer to clients. This is not to say that Samsung should build out direct sales; rather, the firm needs to establish a more direct relationship, both with partners and with end-users. In this vein, Samsung has had some early success; the company has been working closely with DMI on the massive DISA contact, and is expected to provide new details on the program’s expansion soon. Earlier this week Samsung revealed that it has entered into a strategic alliance with GEMA who continues to draw important partners into is ranks. While these relationships have put Samsung in a strong position, the company has a target on its back. BlackBerry has stumbled, but the company continues to maintain large enterprise deployments, and is betting big on the enterprise market as a mean of survival―others such as Lenovo and Microsoft are also in hot pursuit of the enterprise market and certainly have an opportunity to challenge Samsung going forward.