57 posts categorized "Industry Events"


Event Recap – AirWatch Connect

Blending virtualization w/ EMM + some software defined security on the side

I had the opportunity to attend AirWatch's Connect event this past week in Atlanta, Georgia. The event was well attended and featured a nice mix of vendors on the show floor that ranged from small innovative mobile-first startups to industry heavies, such as AT&T, CDW, LG, F5, Sprint and Verizon.

As would be expected, AirWatch broke some news at its event:


Here's our takeaways:

Samsung: AirWatch announced an expanded reseller arrangement with Samsung—this is notable, as it shows that Knox is not dead (as some have declared). The two vendors may find opportunities to collaborate through Samsung's enterprise mobility services initiative, which continues to ramp and has a strong industry focus. This formalized partnership also shows that you can “have your cake, and eat it, too” (the company has also partnered w/ Google on its Android for Work program).

Mobile Security Alliance: AirWatch is demonstrating industry leadership via its Mobile Security Alliance; the firm had already had formalized partnerships with 9 of the 10 founding members (Proofpoint is the most recent vendor the company is partnering with). Each of the founding members (Appthority, Check Point, FireEye, Lookout, Palo Alto Networks, Pradeo, Proofpoint, Skycure, Veracode, Zimperium) is integrating more deeply via AirWatch's console and/or via AirWatch's device side agent (through APIs). The partners each bring very specific enterprise-grade security enhancements that are complementary to AirWatch's EMM value play. Alliance partners span three categories: device, application and network-focused protection.

ACE: AirWatch announced that the App Configuration for Enterprise (ACE) initiative that it is driving has grown to 44 members. Several notable vendors with innovative solutions around enterprise email (Nacho Cove), mobile application modernization (Star Mobile), and split billing (Movius) have joined the roster, but the addition of key SAP properties (Concur and SuccessFactors) were without question the most notable and important. Both of these applications are widely adopted and can now be seamlessly provisioned to AirWatch customers. It remains to be seen is ACE will propel the prepackaged application market—continuing to expand the ISV roster will certainly help.

Privacy First Initiative: AirWatch announced their Privacy First Initiative—the offering will help educate customers on privacy issues and provide end users with greater transparency on how their device (and applications) usage is being monitored. This is smart, and a capability that EMM vendors who compete with AirWatch possess. However, AirWatch is first to market with clear messaging and productized capabilities here. An example that was provided at the event was a scenario whereby IT wanted to ascertain an employee's location-going forward, this type of event can be fully audited/logged. More importantly, such events cannot be executed without informing the end user (policies are in place to information other LOBs, such as HR as well). The privacy feature will be available via AirWatch's console in Q4.

Platform Evolution: Supporting Windows 10 is a requirement; Microsoft's APIs have made it relatively simple to integrate with their Azure Active Directory product, which can streamline self-service device enrollment. AirWatch (along w/ competing EMM vendors) can also offer bulk provisioning for Windows 10 devices and support Win32 and Universal apps straight away. The company's integration also includes device management policies for native email configuration, per-app VPN connectivity and enforcement of enhanced security functions.

On the Same Page—Integration on Track. Still Plenty of Runway Left for EMM Vendors

In speaking with both VMware and AirWatch executives, it is clear that the companies are on the same page in their messaging—products such as NSX (more on this below) also show forward progress on integration. I also made sure to engage with several of AirWatch's prominent customers at the event—I was somewhat surprised by the slow progress in adopting mobile applications by several of the company's largest customers; however, overall, I got the sense that initiatives to expand applications were underway—many customers mentioned that they were busy in migrating/modernizing their legacy applications for mobile platforms.

Recognition that Mobile is Just Another EndpointUEM Strategy Required

The influx of new devices will require IT departments to reconsider how they deliver critical IT services to their internal end users, as the lines between personal and mobile computing will continue to blur and the number of “non-Windows” endpoints continues to expand. Device diversity is now common in most organizations and makes implementing solutions that have the flexibility to streamline the management of all devices, ranging from the ruggedized device deployments that are common in distribution centers, warehouses, and factories to consumer-grade devices that are finding their way into every business. AirWatch’s move into unified endpoint management (UEM) earlier this year shows that the vendor has been preparing to support the increasingly diverse range of non-traditional endpoints (e.g., ATMs, kiosks, smart vending machines, parking meters, POS devices etc.—as every EMM should be), but this has also signaled that the market has matured. Going forward, EMM vendors like AirWatch will be competing directly with much larger vendors (e.g., Accelerite, IBM, LANdesk, and Microsoft) as they begin to pivot to next generation UEM vendors. This will be a fascinating transition. 

Gelsinger Brings Executive Gravitas

VMware's CEO Pat Gelsinger attended Connect for the first time, adding some VMware executive "heft" (even though Mr. Gelsinger is svelte ) to the keynotes. Gelsinger is clearly pleased with the AirWatch acquisition, and spoke at length about security: specifically on how VMware's virtualization orientation enabled enhanced "built-in" security opportunities. The need to enhance security, compliance, and auditing capabilities is required for most large customers, and is a key driver behind the company's foray into Identity Management and its Workspace Suite. VMware is placing a big bet (R&D and marketing $'s) on both of these initiatives.

VMware's Sanjay Poonen who heads the EUC division spoke about the company's "Switzerland Status"—its ability to work across the ecosystem and how its Workspace Suite solution could simplify application delivery (native, SaaS, Windows, or web apps) on any device with robust security. The Workspace Suite marries Horizon, VMware's Identity Management solution, with AirWatch's Content Locker and its ability to unify app delivery. VMware can also offer additional security options by combining their NSX solution (a network virtualization platform), which offers granular application level virtual network policy controls with AirWatch's per-app VPN capabilities. This brings an opportunity to virtualize data center components, using a software-defined approach, along with the potential to reduce hardware costs by decoupling compute, network and storage functions. The security benefit is the ability to restrict application access to specific segments within a network.

Kudos to AirWatch for drawing a critical mass of enterprise mobility—oriented vendors to Atlanta—the event's Expo felt like what CTIA's event's used to be.


Samsung Unpacks Potential with Samsung Pay and Note 5

Yesterday, the heads of Samsung took to the stage at Lincoln Center in New York to announce its latest devices – the S6 edge+ and the Note 5, as well as the release of its new payment system, Samsung Pay.  With the advent of the iPhone 6 Plus, Samsung has had to work harder to differentiate its product beyond being the default Android counterpart to Apple. The Note 5 manages to accomplish this handily with the newest iteration of the S-Pen, which provides substantive enterprise functionality. The Edge +, on the other hand, relies more on aesthetics diversity, as the functionality of the edge, while somewhat improved over the original S6 with the introduction of app shortcuts, remains limited and somewhat uninspiring. Although many reviewers have focused on the incremental nature of the developments of the devices and how they fare compared to the iPhone 6 Plus, the larger, more compelling story for VDC is the potential for Samsung Pay to dominate the mobile payment market and the continued evolution of Samsung into a much more enterprise-focused OEM. 

The potential for Samsung Pay’s “Universal Availability”

Originally announced at Mobile World Congress, Samsung Pay emerged once again to take a prominent role in yesterday’s Unpacked event, complete with launch dates for the US and Korea. While Apple Pay succeeded in raising the general public’s awareness to NFC payment capabilities, its impact on retail has been limited to date. Despite steadily growing numbers, access to NFC-enabled payment terminals has been limited to a select group of partners and has encountered considerable opposition from major retailers, notably the Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX), which includes major chains like Wal-Mart, Best Buy, and Dunkin’ Donuts – forcing retailers like CVS to back down from unofficial support of Apple Pay following its announcement.  In the aftermath of the initial dust-up, NFC payments have gained ground, but are far from mainstream at this point. Samsung Pay, on the other hand, nimbly sidesteps many of these issues from through technology it gained from its acquisition of Loop Pay in February of this year, which can be used with both NFC and traditional mag-stripe devices. As a result, Samsung Pay can be used with nearly all devices capable of taking credit card payments (including smaller peripheral devices like Square), giving the payment system tremendous reach and potential for widespread adoption. Samsung has further upped the ante by partnering not only with major credit card providers, but also enabling store-branded credit card, membership cards and gift cards, bringing the idea of a truly digital wallet that much closer to reality. With its backwards-compatibility to traditional payment systems, Samsung Pay is poised to leapfrog Apple Pay to dominate the growing digital payment market, providing Samsung’s flagship devices a much-need element of differentiation.

Balancing enterprise-readiness with consumer appeal

The delicate act of balancing a much more enterprise-focused device with consumer desires was clearly visible at the Unpacked event, where much of the attention centered on the new devices’ media capabilities, like its improved VDIS for video stabilization, and the introduction of Live Broadcast, which competes with real-time video streaming companies like Periscope and Meerkat.  Although both devices feature enterprise-ready capabilities (like the integration of KNOX on all flagship devices) and the use of SideSync 4.0, it is the Note 5 that stands out as Samsung’s Flagship enterprise device. The Note series, more than other series, is designed with enterprise at the forefront, given its emphasis on multitasking and the use of stylus with the integration of the S-Pen. In addition to the ability to sign and print documents on the Note 5, BlackBerry’s aesthetics appear to have rubbed off on Samsung, as the company unveiled its first-ever physical keyboard accessory, which attaches to the screen to facilitate data entry.

Following the showmanship of the main event, it was the later, smaller B2B event that revealed the extent to which Samsung has devoted its attention to the enterprise. Despite the relative lack of fanfare, EVPs Injon Rhee (Enterprise Business Team) and Joe Stinziano (Samsung Business) discussed the strides made with the integration of KNOX 2.5, which further enhances the security elements of 2.0 from a carrier and IT management standpoint, to the Edge+ and the Note 5. KNOX, as Stinziano emphasized, remains their dedicated brand and its identity is built squarely around the enterprise and, when used in conjunction with Samsung Business seeks to provide end-to-end mobility solutions and security. As he aptly noted, having a smartphone is increasingly an indispensible element of mobility.  Samsung also emphasized its partnership with Red Hat, which helps to provide industry-specific applications and mobile solutions. The latter is an important step for Samsung as it looks to counter the much-touted partnership between Apple and IBM’s MobileFirst which was announced last summer.  With demand for consumer devices cooling, the pressure is on – not just for Samsung, but for the entire smartphone market to provide enterprise-grade, IT-friendly devices that also have consumer appeal.

The potential for Samsung to go from enterprise-grade to mission critical

With the rugged handheld market only now emerging from a protracted period of uncertainty, there is considerable opportunity for consumer-grade devices, particularly when complemented by a full suite of enterprise services and industry-specific know-how. The lack of success from the launch of Windows Embedded 8.1 Handheld as the next generation Windows OS opened the door for Android and Apple alike, as many decision makers have opted to postpone refresh cycles and are evaluating less traditional options, including consumer grade devices. Most rugged OEMs have been quick to fill the gap with smartphone-like handheld devices that feature Android, but there has been a notable degree of erosion in favor of consumer devices. This, when paired with the green field opportunities of smaller organizations mobilizing for the first time presents a tremendous opportunity for companies like Samsung and Apple, which can capitalize on decision-makers’ and end-users’ familiarity with the devices and UI. To do so successfully, however, requires a level of dedication to the enterprise that goes beyond hardware to include services and industry-specific expertise and applications. VDC will be taking a more in-depth look at what this means for Samsung in our upcoming VDC View. 


No Margin for Error for Windows 10

All eyes are on Microsoft with tomorrow’s much-anticipated and written-about release of Windows 10. This next generation of Windows could prove a key turning point for the rugged market – and the rugged handheld market in particular, which has seen fluctuating demand in recent years due in large part to OS uncertainty following the lack of success with Windows 8.1. The launch of Windows Embedded 8.1 Handheld as a successor to the popular but aging Windows CE and 6.x began inauspiciously with delays and lack of device support from market leaders, with the result that the only devices available supporting the OS were from vendors limited market share.  Unsurprisingly, Windows Embedded 8.1 Handheld’s market share has mirrored that of Windows Phone in the consumer market by languishing in the single digits behind Android and iOS. More significantly, however, the rocky launch has altered enterprises’ perception of Windows as the de facto operating system for line-of-business mobile deployments.

Microsoft’s stumble becomes Android’s opportunity

In the aftermath of Windows Embedded 8.1, organizations faced a difficult choice – undergo the migration to Android, or delay refresh cycles of their aging installed device base in the hopes of a better rollout with the subsequent iteration. Such a decision has serious implications for how front-end systems running on devices interact with corporate back-end systems. Rugged devices effectively facilitate the transfer of data between front and back-end systems, with the latter running on Windows; a transfer to Android complicates the relationship and requires additional coordination. This added layer of complexity has served to dissuade more conservative companies from migrating to Android. Organizations unencumbered by legacy systems, however, are looking increasingly to Android for its lower cost devices and familiar user interface. As a result, VDC’s data shows that Android has come to represent roughly 15% of the rugged device market, with growing levels of acceptance in the United States from larger organizations. A key turning point for the operating system came with the decision by Home Depot in 2014 to select Android for its latest mobile deployment, marking one of the first Tier-1 companies to forgo Windows for a large-scale deployment.

Success lies with the ISV community

One of the key factors that will ultimately determine the fate of both Android and Windows in the enterprise will be the reaction from the ISV community that supports them. While Microsoft has the advantage of scale and legacy to assist development for Windows 10, and seems to be positioning itself as a cross-platform productivity solutions company, it still needs active and engaged developers. Much of the development community has shifted towards the volume opportunity that comes with the popularity of the dominant mobile platforms (Google’s Android, and Apple’s iOS).   This makes partnering with key ISV critical for Microsoft going forward – for this reason, VDC believes that it is likely that the company will pursue an acquisition of a rapid application development vendor with a robust developer community.

Time is not on Microsoft’s side

Although Windows remains the predominant OS in enterprise by a considerable margin, the gap has steadily narrowed in recent years with the growing emphasis on mobility and the explosion of bring-your-own-device (BYOD) as a viable option among smaller and mid-size organizations. The ability of consumer-grade devices to work in the enterprise has opened the door to Google and Apple, who have made significant investments in showing enterprise support through strategic partnerships. A majority of respondents to VDC Research support multiple operating systems for their line-of-business applications, and increasingly, the focus of development is for Android and iOS. Putting an end to Android’s recent success in the enterprise-rugged space and regaining market share will depend largely on Microsoft’s ability to ensure that the OS is implemented quickly in business environments. Time is not on their side, with patience increasingly running thin and adoption rates growing for Android as it shows it suitability as an alternative OS. To quickly integrate the new OS, Microsoft will need to work tightly with OEM and ISV partners to ensure rugged devices work effectively with the new OS and applications are supported. Zebra, a dominant player in the rugged space, announced that it will have several products running Windows 10 by the end of 2015. However, these products will be joined by others running Android; illustrating the company’s effort over the past few years to incorporate both operating systems so as to meet various industry demands.

A last chance to dominate?

Windows 10 represents a key turning point for Microsoft, particularly as the company is doubling down on software, given its most recent round of layoffs that cut 7,800 jobs from the phone business and writing off nearly all of the value from its Nokia acquisition. After considerable pushback on Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone from the consumer and enterprise markets, Microsoft can ill-afford another misstep. Any further stumbles will place the OS in jeopardy of losing market dominance and leave the playing field wide open for the competition in both the rugged and enterprise-issued markets. 


With Matt Hopkins, Research Associate


Recap: Qatalyst Global’s Managing BYOX & End User Mobility conference

Managing BYOX Event Recap

At Qatalyst Global’s Managing BYOX & End User Mobility conference, organizations such as PG&E, Fairfield University, and Aetna shared their experiences integrating mobile initiatives, while vendors including Apperian, Bluebox Security, Dilligent, IBM, and WorkSpot, explained how their mobile services could increase company productivity and efficiency. We had the opportunity to speak with several of the end users in attendance about their BYOx approaches — not surprisingly, most were still challenged by the complexities of implementing BYOx policies and proving the ROI of these initiatives. The Fairfield University’s CIO, Paige Francis gave a great presentation that illustrated how heavily mobile technology was relied on by her student body and how important it will be going forward to understand the expectations of future generations of workers and customers. Francis spoke at length about the difficulties of meeting student and employee technology needs in a campus environment and how Service Oriented Architecture concepts now applied to mobility (she described this as “Mobile Oriented Architecture”). We agree, as mobile devices and services will need to seamlessly interact with one another independently. 


End Users Know They Need to Deliver a Positive User Experience

Companies at the conference were at all different stages of their mobile journey exemplifying the differing pace of adoption. Some companies stood out, PG&E for example has developed and deployed a number of mobile applications to enhance field service operations as well as meet customer needs. Interestingly, the utilities industry, which had remained fairly stagnant in regards to technology over the past few years now stands positioned to develop rapidly as mobile and IoT technologies are incorporated to enhance business processes. Other industries such as health care have been keen to embrace mobile technologies, but issues surrounding contractual and regulatory obligations complicate initiatives. However, a major take away from the conference has to be that keeping it simple in both development and deployment is essential. Focusing on the end user — how the end user will use and experience the technology — can guide the process fairly completely, while financial constraints remain important considerations. As Steve Damadeo — the IT Ops Manager for Festo — explained, BYOD and mobile applications provide ample cost-saving opportunities as well as productivity gains if implemented with a focus on cost containment and user experience.

Privacy Considerations Important Going Forward

Providing a unique and outside perspective on the legal obstacles facing multinational corporations’ mobile plans was VDC Research’s own Eric Klein. His presentation touched on one of the many impediments to crafting an effective technology policy that incorporates mobile; from security and privacy concerns to regulatory and user experience issues. Achieving compliance with laws and regulations that are often archaic in relation to modern technology can be cumbersome. Case law as explained by my colleague Eric Klein has failed to keep up with technological development – particularly with regards to mobile technology. Baker & McKenzie’s data privacy and security expert Harry Valetk was in agreement, and spoke at length about this topic and echoed many of these sentiments. While it will take time, the case law will catch up, Valetk predicted that “regulators and courts will apply the laws as they are today regardless of if they more accurately regulate the technology of 20 years ago”.  

Note: This was a recap of the first day (7/15) of the 2-day event. 



VMware ups Security Ante and Shows its Ready for the Post-PC Era

C-Suite representation at the company's business mobility event shows that VMware has much bigger aspirations for its EUC division.

VMware did a masterful job in drawing attention to its business mobility event earlier this week in San Francisco. While we thought that a key partnership similar to the Apple/IBM tie up last summer might be announced, the company did make several important announcements. The primary news was the launch of an entirely new identity management solution (simply named: VMware Identity Manager) which offers integrated single sign-on (SSO) functionality with AirWatch's EMM platform. The fact that 15 new ISV partners have joined the App Configuration for Enterprise (ACE) program was also notable; VMware has correctly identified an opportunity to differentiate going forward via app curation. Sanjay Poonen made it clear that he envisions the ACE program extending much further than its current roster of 21 ISVs. Considering that the program is just 3 months old, and the strong brands/footprints in the enterprise of participating ISVs, they are off to a great start. However, the market will still require some education to understand the true value proposition of ACE.


Plenty of vendors (startups such as Centrify, Okta, OneLogin, Ping Identity and Symflified are the most prominent) have developed important enhanced security solutions (all are centered around automating authentication) and have increasingly turned their focus toward enterprise mobility. Then of course there are heavies such as IBM, Microsoft, and Oracle who have tenured Identity Management solutions. VMware's entry here isn't about displacing these vendors — the move shows that they are aware that their customers are looking for ways to improve their competitiveness, agility, and compliance — and that their customers are going mobile. Offering an Identity-as-a-service (IDaaS) solution is a smart, as it will enable VMware to offer sophisticated security (by combining secure cloud SSO, strong authentication, and sophisticated identity lifecycle management) while preventing their customers from going elsewhere for these types of services.

What's most impressive is VMware's ability to blend enhanced security technologies that were intended for traditional client-server environments with modern mobile platforms (and infrastructure). Case in point, the merging of its NSX solution with AirWatch's EMM platform; by using what VMware calls "network micro-segmentation", they are effectively bringing very granular virtual network policy controls (at the application level) which allows users or groups to access only the specific applications within the data center to which they are authorized. This type of technology has not existed until now, although containerization solutions such as Docker seem to be moving in this direction.

use of network micro-segmentation
use of network micro-segmentation
use of network micro-segmentation

VDC sees these solutions as gaining in importance as the theft of credentials has become a persistent barrier for secure mobile enablement. Implementing more robust security mechanism typically comes with a cost; solutions typically introduce more complexity and negatively impact the user experience. From what VMware is showing, they seemed to have nailed this. However, it feels as though others will be able to replicate this seamless (and secure) method of mobile application delivery.

Keys to success for all of the participating vendors in enhance security will be to deliver solutions that are able to preserve the user experience while delivering robust mobile solutions that aren’t cumbersome and are designed to accommodate the way mobile users want to operate. New entrants must demonstrate that their approach is differentiated to compete against large and established security vendors. While mobile authentication is niche, the market is crowded, and visibility will be critical to establish the right partnerships and channel relationships. VMware seems to be coming out of the gate quickly.

* Side note: VMware also announced it will be working more closely (and presumable integrating more deeply) with Apple going forward; not coincidentally, key rival MobileIron was able to interject its partnership with Apple on its OneTouch solution into the news cycle on the same day of VMware business mobility event. I'm waiting to learn more about the details on the depth of both of these partnerships.


WWDC: Enterprise Recap

While the themes at WWDC were consumer oriented, there actually were some key enterprise elements.

Apple’s highly anticipated annual Worldwide Developers Conference occurred on Monday at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, California. As expected, many of the developments revolved around consumer products, namely the Apple Watch and a new music streaming service, Apple Music. However, enterprise enhancements were also present, as Apple looks to increase its presence in corporate environments.

In keeping with recent tradition, Apple announced its new operating systems: iOS 9 and OS X El Capitan, which allow for greater integration among devices. The new OS X does not include many new features, but iOS 9 provides some new improvements that enhance the competitiveness of the iPhone and iPad in both consumer and enterprise markets. The new iOS features a battery saving mode which Apple claims will add three additional hours of battery life.  The company is late in incorporating this feature, which consumers clearly have been asking for - other prominent OEMs such as Samsung, Huawei and HTC have offered this capability for some time now. iPads have become more business friendly under the new operating system as new multitasking features were implemented. In particular, the new split screen feature similar to that present in Windows and some Android tablets will allow users to use separate apps simultaneously. In addition, the iPad will include a trackpad feature allowing for greater control and quick typing. These enhancements should allow for increased user-productivity, and illustrate Apple’s attempt to further outfit the iPad as a hybrid- laptop replacement similar to Microsoft’s Surface tablet.

Despite the changes mentioned above, the WWDC did not entail any significant developments or changes that will affect Apple’s overall trajectory. The new operating system for the Apple Watch and the new music streaming service may increase consumer support for Apple products; however, the innovations relating to enterprise will likely not significantly increase corporate demand. The changes to the iPad amount to Apple merely catching up to Microsoft and Samsung by incorporating a true multitasking feature. This new development takes the place of an old feature claimed by Apple to be multitasking, but in reality was more akin to app-switching. New security features, such as the addition of a six-digit passcode and the option to force enable passcodes on corporate owned devices, will certainly garner support among those in the corporate world looking to protect their corporate information from what appear to be endless data breaches. This enhancement also follows in part from Microsoft’s emphasis on security, as exemplified by Windows 10’s sophisticated containerization capabilities.

Apple has also made clear on its website that several features important to the business community will be made available in the near feature. Promised improvements in networking and device management have the ability to greatly improve business processes through increased functionality. Unfortunately, Apple does not provide any information regarding these enhancements on their website so their usefulness remains a mystery. These are critical enterprise elements to iOS 9; to date Apple has done a great job at augmenting the EMM elements of its OS, and we look forward hearing more about these key features.


Apple image

A key advantage for Apple remains its App store, which for the past year has included Microsoft Office as one of its offerings. The prevalence of the App store is exemplified by the fact that 98 percent of Fortune 500 companies feature an app in the Apple App Store. Furthermore, the new spotlight search feature should allow for greater efficiency in the utilization of applications, seeing as the search results will include information present in older apps that may have been forgotten. The unification of multiple platforms working and interacting together may allow for efficiency gains as employees work more frequently outside the office. Microsoft has followed Apple’s lead in attempting to develop a similar network across devices with its new operating system, Windows 10. However, while both these companies appear to have an eye on the future, the gains of such forward thinking may be farther off as companies will need time to realize the productivity and monetary gains from such integration. In essence, the WWDC highlighted Apple’s continued efforts to cater to its strong consumer base while augmenting its enterprise feature set.  Balancing consumer and enterprise demands is a challenge faced by all OEMs and begs the question- who will be the first to offer a business edition phone (a la BlackBerry)?


Event Recap – Citrix Synergy

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

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

The Suite Always Wins (right?)

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

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

Feud Continues — Enzo and Beyond the Horizon

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

One Final Thing ...


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


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

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


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

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



Event Recap ― SAP SAPPHIRE (Mobile Perspective)

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

S/4HANA's Big Roll out

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


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

Google and Facebook

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

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

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

Rick is Running

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

Mobile Secure, Apps and Key Partners

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

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

Off to Citrix Synergy!


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."


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


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


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


Windows 10_image

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