We've heard all about the IBM MobileFirst apps, but what has IBM MaaS360 been up to?

Even though we might not have heard about everything that was going on, MaaS360 has clearly been hard at work.

A few years ago, Fiberlink MaaS360 was always one of the top handful of vendors in the EMM space. Then in 2013 they were acquired by IBM, and then IBM continued to make waves in mobility by partnering with Apple to build 100 enterprise mobile apps. Today IBM’s MobileFirst brand is well known.

However, at the same time IBM has been somewhat quieter about EMM specifically—especially compared to VMware and Microsoft. Their EMM is still getting plenty of recognition in analyst reports, and recently they made news by being a part of the new cross-vendor AppConfig Community, but I wanted a deeper look. A few weeks ago I spoke with Wes Gyure, who owns MaaS360 product management, and Tom Mulvehill, an IBM mobile security strategist.

First, one reason why we haven’t been hearing as much from MaaS360 is that last year IBM was calling it “IBM MobileFirst Protect.” Now they’re back to calling MaaS360, though, which is a great move, since it always had a lot of name recognition.

In the meantime, they’ve been plenty busy.

From a business perspective, they said last year was a big one—MaaS360 added over 4000 new clients; average transaction prices were up; deal volumes were up by over 50%; their renewal rate was over 90%; and they grew their R&D team by 35%. Having the weight of IBM and the MobileFirst recognition was certainly a big help, too.

From a technology perspective, MaaS360 has been busy as usual, and they’ve kept up with all the updates for iOS, the Apple Device Enrollment Program, Android for Work, Samsung Knox, Apple OS X, Windows 10, and more. They emphasized that they’ve kept up the pace doing hundreds of releases a year, so they’re still working at SaaS speed.

Speaking of Windows 10, like most other EMM vendors MaaS360 is supporting the new MDM APIs, but remember that MaaS360 has had traditional management for laptops, desktops, and servers for years. IBM of course also has BigFix in the portfolio for client management, so that puts them in a excellent position for unified endpoint management. In fact, one new thing I didn’t know before was that MaaS360 started out years ago as a product to SaaS-ify BigFix, using it on the backend. (This was one of the reasons why IBM chose to acquire Fiberlink.) Today BigFix and MaaS360 can complement each other—they have what they call a lightweight integration, where once console can be used to see all the devices in both platforms.

MaaS360 (as well as BigFix) is organized as part of the security group at IBM, and they’ve been working on a number of integrations. IBM Trusteer has a mobile SDK that can be used to check for vulnerable or compromised devices. The results can be fed back into MaaS360, which can then remediate according to whatever policies happen to be set. MaaS360 also has integrations with IBM Security Access Manager, so that SSO and authentication policies can be aware of mobile device status.

IBM’s partnership with Apple may get the most attention (most recently it was for reaching the stated goal of building 100 apps) but MaaS360 has a role here, too. MaaS360 is used to do all the EMM and device lifecycle management as a part of mobile services offerings. Customers that are just buying the joint IBM/Apple apps don’t necessarily have to use MaaS360, but as you can imaging that has certainly brought them their share of customers.

Final thoughts

Even though we might not have heard about everything that was going on, MaaS360 has clearly been hard at work. With the security, identity, and unified endpoint management integrations, they're right there with the rest of the field in making EMM a mature and powerful product. (It’s also nice to hear that they’re sticking with the old name!) I’ll be especially interested to see how they keep pursuing unified endpoint management, Windows 10, and bringing together this whole modern EUC “workspace” concept everybody’s talking about.

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