In recent days Google announced that it had new mobile app management (MAM) and mobile device management (MDM) capabilities.
It was not alone.
Over the past two weeks, there have been a number of announcements from companies either entering the market with their own product sets or acquiring one of the major providers of this technology — a trend, by the way, that is hardly appreciated by users.
All this activity, and keep in mind we are looking at a snap shot of a few weeks, supports IDG's (fee charged) recent prediction that sales of mobile management software will top $2.9 billion by 2019.
The Race Is On
But what IDG didn’t explain is who will win:
"Growth results from 2014 demonstrate that no vendor can afford to rest on its laurels in this space," noted Stacy Crook, research director, Mobile Enterprise at IDG.
"Large software vendors need to allow mobile business units to continue to move at the speed the mobile market demands. Pure-plays need to keep innovating to keep their ASPs up while their larger competitors create increased pricing pressure in the market. A focus on the right messaging for the right user audience is key, and developing a multifaceted channel that can help the vendor reach that audience in the most effective way is crucial for future growth."
The race is on, it appears, especially as IDG has downgraded earlier predictions of annual growth in this space to 10 percent from a very nice 27 percent annual growth rate that IDG believed would happen last year.
Hence all the activity. Let's start with Google.
Google's New Functionality
To be clear, Google Apps already offered MAM on Android. What is new -- and significant -- is that the same functionality is being offered on iOS.
As Sumit Chatterjee, program manager for Google Apps Mobile Management wrote in his blog post:
"Starting today, with the new Device Policy app on iOS, employees can easily see which apps are company approved, install them, and keep getting things done. On Android, admins can already use the Device Policy app and Google Play for Work to manage devices and apps (MDM and MAM for alphabet soup lovers), while on iOS, admins can also already manage device policies like requiring passwords and removing company information with account wipe (MDM) directly from the Admin console. As the admin, you can quickly whitelist any work app from the iOS device management section in the Admin console."
There are six apps that are pre-whitelisted: Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Drive, Google Docs, Google Sheets and Google Slides.
MDM's Not-So-Secret Secret
"I think MDM is a case of be careful what you wish for because you might get it. Enterprises were calling for controls over devices, especially when BYOD became so popular," he said. But when they got it, employees revolted. It was viewed as too invasive on their mobile devices for starters.
This was the view in a Gartner's August 2015 report on living with unmanaged mobile devices. It noted that Gartner clients who have tried MDM received poor feedback from their workforce. Now its clients are inquiring about alternative methods to securely provide enterprise access from mobile devices.
Another problem, Brehm said, is that as the pure play vendors in this space were snapped up, their original focus was lost. A lot of MDM software simply doesn’t work now, or at least work well, he said.
Now the industry is focusing more on securing the apps that run on the devices -- the MAM approach -- as that is less invasive and gives companies greater control over security and data.
But no one vendor has gained significant momentum, he said, leaving the field wide open for Google. Google, the developer of Android, one might add here. And by focusing its attention on the apps, it appears to be leaning towards the MAM approach.
It also has some – not a lot, but some -- control over the various Android-based devices and can help standardize its approach on those as well especially as Android Lollipop 5.0 and the subsequent upgrades have been stepping up their focus on device security and sharing.
VMWare Eyes Windows 10
Another new offering comes from VMWare, which at the start of September previewed Project A – a platform that is a "mobile-centric approach" to delivering and managing applications and devices for Windows 10 using AirWatch enterprise mobile management (EMM) and VMware App Volumes application delivery technology.
"This integrated solution enables our customers to accelerate their adoption of Windows 10 with mobile-like management for their devices and applications," Sumit Dhawan, senior vice president and general manager, Desktop Products, End-User Computing at VMware, wrote in a blog post.
The product was announced at VMWorld earlier this month, a user conference where VMWware made clear it had finally, once and for all, buried any animosity it had with Microsoft.
In this blog post Erik Frieberg, vice president of marketing for End-User Computing at VMware wrote that Microsoft Windows 10 a milestone release for Microsoft and "represents a fundamental shift in the way IT can manage all devices, as well as run both old and new software."
He continued: AirWatch Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) will support all new capabilities introduced in Windows 10, including streamlined deployment, unified app experience, advanced security and data protection and update management.
The best-in-class AirWatch EMM suite can become the de facto management platform for all devices running Windows 10 – including laptops, desktops, smartphones and tablets – from a central, unified console. In addition, VMware complements this unified endpoint management strategy and can help organizations enroll or migrate users and devices to Windows 10, configure or deliver applications to Windows 10 devices and help manage security policies and lifecycles of devices and users.
Apperian Secures $12 Million
Another player is Apperian, a mobile application and management company, which secured $12 million in a Series C funding round. New investor First Floor Capital joined Bessemer Venture Partners, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, North Bridge Venture Partners, Intel Capital and Common Angels Ventures in backing Apperian.
After that announcement, Apperian unveiled day-of support for developers and enterprises to update to iOS 9. Apple requires all enterprise apps and their associated extensions to be signed with explicit provisioning profiles, it noted, but the use of ‘Wildcard’ profiles may interrupt certain features of an app under iOS 9.
"Apperian’s platform allows enterprises to easily make this transition by upgrading app policies code-free, automating re-signing with an explicit provisioning profile, and then notifying users of the updated version available for download for both managed and unmanaged devices," it said in its press release.
BlackBerry Tries to Get Relevant
Finally there is Blackberry's acquisition of Good Technologies for $425 million in cash, announced last week. The benefits are many for BlackBerry, not only to help it shore up its faltering profile among enterprises but also because it will help BlackBerry better target iOS and Android devices.
None of these, however, are game changers, at least according to Brehm. Except Google that is, and here he is not even thinking about device management in its current incarnation.
Device management will be an essential part of the Internet of Things, Brehm said. Right now are a lot of missing pieces before a viable IoT infrastructure is ready to support mainstream use, he said – and that includes a common platform for device management. "Google is further ahead than most and its new development pushes them even further along," Brehm said.
Title image by Curtis Mac Newton.