Dell has four different mobile device management (MDM) products. What’s their strategy here?

Dell has been transforming itself into a software company over the last year, making a ton of acquisitions. The result is a tangle of overlapping products, leaving people to wonder which ones will be consolidated, killed, or promoted.

Dell has been transforming itself into a software company over the last year, making a ton of acquisitions. The result is a tangle of overlapping products, leaving people to wonder which ones will be consolidated, killed, or promoted. This certainly rings true in the mobile device management (MDM) space, where by my count Dell now has four different solutions. I talked to Roger Bjork, Dell’s director of mobile solutions, and Ken Drachnik, product marketing director for the KACE group, to find out what Dell has in store for mobility, and if any of the products will evolve into mobile app management solutions.

Before we go any farther, let’s go over the lineup just to keep things straight:

  • KACE (Acquired back in 2010) The KACE 3000 is a new MDM product that comes as an on-premise appliance (virtual or physical). James Furbush covered its announcement in December over at SearchConsumerization.
  • Wyse (Acquired April 2012) Wyse’s Cloud Client Manager, known as Project Stratus during beta, was released last November. It’s cloud-based, and it combines management for mobile devices, thin clients, and software remote desktop clients all into one product. There’s more information in our article that covered the release.
  • Quest (Acquired July 2012) Quest Management Extensions (also known as QMX) are slightly less prominent—or at least I haven’t heard anybody at Dell mention them recently. QMX is an add-on for SCCM, rather than a freestanding product. For more, check out this video from the 2012 Microsoft Management Summit.
  • Credent (Acquired December 2012) The most recent of these acquisitions, they apparently have MDM, too. I’m not really very familiar with them.

So which one of these do you pick? Mostly it’s pretty simple—which one of these four divisions do you already have a relationship with? Great, pick that one! I was assured that none of these products are going away anytime soon, so that answers our first question about Dell and mobility, at least for now. If you’re comparing all of them from a fresh perspective, then the answer is to pick Wyse if you want cloud-based MDM that’ll also manage your thin clients, KACE if you want an on-premise appliance, or QMX if you want SCCM integration.

The next next big question for Dell’s MDM portfolio is if any of them are going to evolve into mobile application management solutions. (Sure, MDM can install and remove apps, and making an enterprise mobile app store is pretty easy, but the type of MAM I’m talking about is the type that involves close control of the actual apps and their behavior, with the eventual goal of being able to create an interconnected ecosystem of corporate mobile apps.)

So is MAM in the future for Dell? The answer I was given was “Yes”, but in a very general way—there’s nothing coming soon that they could tell me about, and no signs that give any hints. They point out that the KACE and Wyse products are both version 1.0 releases, and that their overall strategy is to “build for the long term.”

This doesn’t seem very exciting for right now, but it does make sense. Even though many MAM products came out in 2012, we’re still waiting to see how widespread the adoption will be. On the other hand, though, we’ve seen many other MDM vendors make this evolution.

Dell could get into MAM by making another acquisition while they have their checkbook out, or one of the existing products could expand into it. My best guess for that would be the Wyse group—Wyse has been edging around the idea of mobile file syncing with PocketCloud Explore and CloudBin, and more mobile app management for them doesn’t seem out of the question.

Regardless of what happens, it looks like Dell is going to multiple MDM solutions for the time being. This underscores the idea that MDM is a “feature,” not a “product.” However, it remains to be seen when and how Dell will come into mobile application management.

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