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If you’re wondering what VMI is, the simplest way to describe it is that it’s fairly similar to VDI and other remote server-based computing technologies, except instead hosting instances of a desktop operating system in a data center, VMI uses a hosted mobile operating system. (Right now all VMI products use Android for the hosted OS, with clients are available for multiple OSes.) You can learn more about VMI by reading this intro article or by watching my session from this year’s Citrix Synergy. VMI is still very new, and there are a lot of different ways that we can see it being used, which makes this acquisition quite interesting.
Avast and Remotium
Avast has a range of consumer and business security and antivirus software for Windows and OS X, but up to this point their mobile products have all been consumer-oriented. Acquiring Remotium is their major foray into enterprise mobility management.
Remotium is a Silicon Valley-based startup founded by former security researchers in 2012. Remotium had early customers in Japanese manufacturing, and became generally available last year.
Financial details of the acquisition aren’t being disclosed, but in an interview Avast told me the price was in the low 8 figure range, and that they are committed to providing significant resources for Remotium to continue growing. Previously Remotium had a $1 million seed round in 2013, according to CrunchBase. Remotium will remain a distinct business unit at Avast.
A market first
This marks the first acquisition in the VMI space (there are currently at least other vendors working on VMI, too). I was a bit surprised that it was Avast the made the acquisition, as I would have expected on of the main EMM vendors to acquire VMI and then position it as a specialty option within their offerings.
But on the other hand, there’s also still an argument to be made for VMI to be used as a more general purpose BYOD and mobile app management solution, making it an interesting (and very unique) entry point for Avast. (Why is VMI good for BYOD and MAM? VMI avoids some of the tradeoffs of the two main types of mobile app management available today; VMI can be used to enable write-once deploy-anywhere development; and VMI keeps work and personal apps very separate from each other.)
Regardless of what VMI deployment scenarios get popular, a complete enterprise mobility management strategy will need plenty of other components besides AV and security apps and VMI. Avast and Remotium don’t currently have any formal relationships with any EMM partners, but they do realize that VMI can’t exist on its own as an island. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them getting closer to some other EMM vendors soon.