51 posts categorized "Industry Events"

05/19/2015

Event Recap – Citrix Synergy

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

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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 ...

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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.

The #UNCEO

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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!

Wrap

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 ...

 

05/11/2015

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.

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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!

02/27/2015

Event Recap ― IBM InterConnect

I had the opportunity to attend IBM's InterConnect event earlier this week in Las Vegas; the event was well attended (20K+ attendees) and showcased the depth and breadth of IBM's Cloud, Mobile, Security, and DevOps capabilities. The inaugural InterConnect event combined three previously separate IBM events (Pulse, Innovate and Impact). IBM's executives were successful in articulating the progress the vendor has made in the key strategic areas the company has focused on (analytics, mobility, security and cloud computing).

Robert LeBlanc, the company's SVP of Cloud, kicked off the event with a discussion of the importance of hybrid cloud. LeBlanc made is clear that progress was being made and that IBM was dedicated to "breaking down the barriers between clouds and on-premise IT systems, providing clients with control, visibility and security as they use the public clouds. Data location across an ever-growing number of clouds is an increasing concern for customers, and we are unveiling new application portability and developer services to make this easier to manage."

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While IBM had (arguably) the earliest vision for cloud computing, they needed to go big with their cloud messaging based on the visible traction that others have achieved (predominantly Microsoft and Amazon); in fact, the company's CEO, Ginni Rometty, spoke just yesterday at the company's annual investor briefing and made clear that she expects that the nexus of cloud, big data/analytics, enterprise mobile/social, and computer security would add promised to grow these businesses from $25B to $40B by 2018 (or ~40% of the company’s revenues in 2018).  

Holding out on Mobile

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While IBM revealed it had enhanced (and modularized) its MobileFirst Platform at InterConnect, it felt as though they were holding out on revealing key details on their partnership with Apple. However, with Mobile World Congress right around the corner, this makes sense, especially as IBM informed analysts/press/media that a press conference on the IBM/Apple partnership would take place at MWC on Monday, March 3.

The MobileFirst Platform enhancements provide enterprise-grade capabilities specifically aimed at:

Continuous Improvement: Collecting in app usage and feedback for enhanced sentiment analysis and crash analytics; more easily manage app iterations and release cycles.

Security: Protecting enterprise data from exposure through mobile exploits using advanced user authentication and supporting app authenticity, encrypting local data and performing app scanning.

Contextualization and Personalization: Developing proximity-aware mobile apps to create relevant, contextual mobile experiences that connect insights from digital engagement and physical presence.

Enabling Data Rich Apps: Providing mobile data through the platform's Cloudant module that allows organizations to store, sync, scale and connect to data in enterprise systems.

IBM had several of its prominent mobile customers (Bancroft, Comdata, ICICI Bank, and Kohl's) share their stories on how the mobile application(s) they have developed have transformed their workflows and day-to-day routines. What I found to be most impressive was the user adoption the companies achieved (and how quickly the apps were embraced).

Partner Enablement (Mobile Perspective)

The MobileFirst Platform Foundation 6.2 has created far-reaching opportunities across a broad spectrum of industry verticals. One such application is CSC’s integrated digital Electronic Patient Record (EPR) solution, Lorenzo Mobile. Through the use of Worklight, the EPR is a platform- and device-agnostic solution that meets all relevant health care IT standards. Key security features include SSL-encryption, dual-factor authentication through NFC and PIN, and IBM’s MaaS360, while also enabling PAC integration and unified push notifications and offline capabilities. While the soon-to-be launched solution will likely remain UK-only for the foreseeable future, rather than taking on health care giants like Siemens and Cerner, Lorenzo Mobile nevertheless represents the potential for the industry-changing potential of emerging solutions providers.

The VDC Mobile Team is off to Barcelona this afternoon - we're looking forward to hearing more details from IBM at the show. Be sure to follow us on Twitter for coverage of #MWC15!

With Kathryn Nassberg, Analyst

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.

Vmware_blog_graphic

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)