All my thoughts on mobility from BriForum 2015 Denver.

BriForum 2015 wrapped up last Wednesday in Denver, and my mind has been buzzing with all sorts of thoughts from it. That's par for the course with BriForum, but something feels different this year.

BriForum 2015 wrapped up last Wednesday in Denver, and my mind has been buzzing with all sorts of thoughts from it.

That’s par for the course with BriForum, but something feels different this year. It could be because instead of doing a typical session on enterprise mobility management, this year I did two sessions on related topics: virtual mobile infrastructure and identity and access management. It could also be because we’re truly at an interesting time with enterprise mobility, identity, Windows 10, enterprise mobile apps, wearable devices, and more.

So for today, I want to briefly share my post-BriForum thoughts on all of these topics.

Virtual Mobile Infrastructure

My main session at BriForum was about virtual mobile infrastructure. Now I’ve given this session before at BriForum London and at Citrix Synergy, and we’ve been writing about VMI in general for over a year now, but BriForum Denver was different for a few reasons. Last week we actually had three different VMI vendors—Hypori, Remotium, and Nubo—all onsite. (And sitting in on my session. No pressure!) That meant that not only could attendees learn what VMI is, they could have a lot more in-depth discussions with the people that are actually making it happen. Brian Katz even recorded a podcast with all three vendors at once, and I got to enjoy being a guest co-host. (Watch for that to be published soon at

One thing that becomes apparent is that there’s actually quite a bit of diversity in how different VMI vendors approach technical and philosophical issues. There are still challenges, but they’re steadily being solved. (I’ll go more in-depth when I write the article version of my session.) The vendors are also reporting that many pilots are in progress.

From the attendee side, once most people learn what VMI is, they can see how it can fit within enterprise mobility. The important thing is also be aware of what’s going on in the rest of the EMM space, to put VMI in the right context.

Apple Watch

One of the questions I got most often this week was “How do you like your Apple Watch?” I wrote about my initial impressions after using it for two weeks, now it’s been two months: The verdict? I still like it and I’m still wearing it every day. I’m also seeing many more of them out in the wild. (The rush of being an early adopter was fun while it lasted, though!)

Enrolling devices in EMM

A few times I heard people say that they wouldn’t want to enroll their personal device in MDM, or that they would have a hard time getting their users agree to management. This underscores a few points: Even though it’s 2015 and we’ve had EMM for a few years now, there are still diverse and evolving attitudes about it. Technical approaches to BYOD are still debated, and no matter what EMM has to give value to the end user. Also it’s important to be prepared to support different types of mobile app management as well as understand the ramifications of different techniques.

App transformation

We’ve been writing a lot about this, and it was a big topic onsite. (The conversation was also helped along by the presence of Reddo, StarMobile, and hopTo.) There’s a lot of enthusiasm for app transformation, but we also want to be able to combine it with off the shelf apps, mobile app development platforms, native development, and desktop virtualization, so we can always have the right tool for the job. Again, it’s all about understanding the context of the entire mobile space.

Windows 10

Windows 10 will introduce EMM concepts to the rank and file desktop world. As I’ve written, the big question isn’t when companies will move to Windows 10, it’s when they’ll start using MDM to manage it.

Identity and access management

My other session at BriForum was a 15-minute lightning round about identity and access management and how it relates to enterprise mobility management. Several products are now combining EMM and IAM directly, including Centrify, Microsoft Enterprise Mobility Suite, Okta, and VMware Identity Manager.

In the new mobile / cloud world, EMM and IAM will be central to end user computing. Brian and I talked about this on two recent podcasts (here and here). Going forward, at some point these won’t be specialty products, they’ll just be the way we do EUC.

Final note

Of course what make BriForum great is seeing old friends, making new ones, learning from each other, and exchanging ideas. A huge thanks to everybody who was a part of it!

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Thanks for the article, especially the app transformation is interesting, because it is hard for companies to combine all technologies for each use case. Probably most of the enterprises cannot afford to combine all of them.


RE Apple Watch: how often have you forgot to charge it, and walked around with a brick on your arm?


RE Apple Watch: I'm usually still above 50% charge, or often in the 60% range, at the end of a day. If I don't charge it at night, usually I'm fine for most of a second day, too, but I've definitely walked around with a brick on my arm a couple of times :)


@Jack I think the key questions to consider when looking at EMM and Windows.

1) Exactly WTF do EMM vendors do to manage Windows 10? Feels like a very naive view on how to manage Windows and mostly vendor BS to push EMM, which I have said for a while is a fake category. It's now hitting walls and trying to expand what it is.

2) EMM vendors still have a lot of stability issues. Having more success with Mobile Iron stability than Airwatch, which is full of bugs. Why the F would I trust an EMM vendor to touch my Windows estate?

3) EMM vendors think in terms of devices. I want to be out of the device management business. Hence EMM is just a vendor hyped band-aid and increases costs by having to manage devices, which is of lltd value to my business. We need solutions to manage content/access/experience on unmanaged devices so mobile business work flows can easily be deployed anywhere.

4) Mobility has nothing to do with EMM, that's an idiots band-aid to protect the status quo. Get rid of EMM and device management as much as possible is a better future. I am working on digital transformation and EMM does little to enable that.  EMM actually slows things down. I need easy ways to get apps to unmanaged devices and protect their content. Controlling devices is a dead business to be in, and only required for niche IT use cases. Hence this whole notion of EMM managing Windows devices is just backwards looking.



1) MDM for windows 10: If there are locally-installed legacy apps involved, of course just using MDM isn’t going to be able to touch them. But since Windows 10 has all sorts of mobile-like features, MDM APIs (whether accessed via an EMM vendor or through traditional desktop management) are simply a way to control these features.

For the subset of users that don’t need any locally installed legacy apps, then EMM is the right tool to manage Windows 10. How many users is this? It all depends on the mix of apps a user needs (and also how many investments have been made into desktop virtualization, SaaS apps, web apps, etc.). But there are a lot of road warriors where this applies already. (Hmmm, maybe that would be an interesting challenge to try: How long can I go just using Universal Windows Apps and web apps?) This is where EMM vendors are excited about Windows 10. Nobody has to do this if they don’t want to, but if they do want a lighter-weight, modern way of managing Windows, then it’s available now. Regarding your point 4, how is that backwards looking?

2) Fair enough.

3 and 4) You’re defining EMM in terms of MDM. Replace EMM with MDM, and you’re be right on. But EMM is broader than that. Call it something else, call it “the new way of doing EUC in the mobile / cloud era,” but most people think of EMM as a lot more than just MDM. It’s been said many times before: MDM is just a feature of EMM.

At the same time, yes indeed some of the EMM vendors are still thinking in a fairly MDM and device-centric way. To that point, I’ve written extensively on the need to give just as much attention to non MDM- and device-centric approaches, too.

Certainly MAM as it exists today has tradeoffs and is a bit of a mess. Standards would help solve this, but right now the only standards that are emerging happen to require MDM. Another problem is that if you want to use your native email client and have policies to protect it, you have to use MDM. We’re not going to see 100% of the enterprise using 3rd party email apps, so this isn’t going to change anytime soon, either. So controlling devices is more than just niche use cases.

But it’s not all so device-centric. Look at what the more MAM-centric vendors are enabling on unmanaged devices. Or even just ignore the MDM parts of EMM vendors. Deploying content/access/experience on unmanaged devices is here.



No need to apologize for the long comment, it’s much appreciated. I'm glad that we have these conversations here.

Regarding the definition of EMM and people thinking EMM = MDM: that’s an issue I’ll keep addressing in future blog posts. I like Brian Katz’s comment on Twitter: “You are right that most think EMM = MDM doesn’t make them right.” I’m going to stick by my broad definition of EMM for now.

Regarding managed devices versus unmanaged devices, again that’s another issue that I’ll continue to address. (And call vendors on when they don’t give equal attention to both.)

Just a forewarning, you probably won’t agree with much of the post I’ve written for next Monday (which I actually wrote earlier this week). The short version of it is that in the Workspace of The Future, comprising mobile devices and SaaS, EMM and IAM are the primary tools / model we have for managing it. We’ve talked about that a lot over the last month, but I wanted condense all the random thoughts into a single article.

I’d like to hear more of your thoughts on Workspace of The Future. Specifically: If EMM isn't a big part of it, what management technologies are actually involved ? (And what vendors have the right approach today, or are at least on the right track?) It’s my suspicion that many of the things you’ll mention will be things that would fall under my broader definition of EMM, but I’ll let you to elaborate. (Blog post soon?)

Regarding MDM/MAM for Windows 10, you make a lot of great points that I can’t argue with. I think for now we can only just wait 6 or 12 (or 24) months and see if anyone actually does it that way.

Moka5 Skynet was awesome, I too was quite sad to see them end.

One final question: thoughts on VMI?



Equating EMM to be something it isn’t is the problem… It’s a feature of something much broader in reality. But cool if you are going to have a broader conversation. IMHO calling it EMM has no purpose than to fan vendor terms, when it’s really WTF. ☺

Great, would love to hear more about unmanaged devices, so we can work towards  making device management a niche use case and reducing overhead.

Thanks for mentioning your current article. You’re right I don’t agree with it and will comment. EMM is part of a bigger thing, a smaller part than what vendors would like us to believe. No time for a blog right now, but in general I’d say break things up into categories of things that need to be managed. Apps, Data, Devices, Settings, Voice, Chat, Self -Service across all use cases. Citrix has the right idea with the term software defined workspace. It’s a just a shame that there’s very little you can do to holistically manage with their vision, hence WTF. It’s also ok to say it won’t happen overnight and doesn’t exist today, so it has to be done in pieces. My contention is starting with a device managed approach sets us off on the wrong path from day one stuffing the pockets of vendors who only care about managing more things at our expense.

Windows 10 has a lot of questions to answer still in the enterprise. The browser compatibility alone for apps is going to take some time to gain confidence in, as is sorting out the new patching processes, which idiot compliance people will talk about for months. So I’m more inclined to phase it in for use cases like some Surface Tablets, upgrade laptops for travelers and from there we’ll see. Will also likely spur more VDI/RDSH investment to deal with the usual issues and opportunistically address more use-cases.

VMI, hmm... I think it’s interesting, but the problem is developers. If your application is deployed on Citrix for a developer=you have a crappy app unless it’s part of a broader VDI deployment. I don’t recall any developer I’ve ever met who liked having their application put on XenApp to move closer to the back end because it was crap on the wire. No pride in building that. So it’s IT admins who pushed remoting not developers. I don’t see developers falling in love with VMI, they want to do native development to boost their careers. So I don’t think anybody wants to pay for VMI and feel application refactoring has more legs to enable more business workflows if there is a secure way to deploy them. Most developers I speak to, would rather think about securing their app than deal with the infrastructure people as part of their development lifecycle.  


I agree with a lot of what @appdetective has to say.

I believe 80% of the devices (PCs, Mac, iOS, and Android) used to access business apps and data will be un-managed. These are the home Macs for your employees, your contractors PC/phone/tablet, and other personal mobile devices for your employees. A device-centric paradigm does not help you solve this problem.

On the other hand, 20% of the devices will be "owned" or can be managed by IT. For those devices, a device-centric paradigm may be appropriate.

In both cases, we believe that the end users need a "workspace" (WTF!) to access all their apps and data. A virtual desktop was one way to deliver a workspace. We all know the limitations with that approach. A new client architecture is needed that helps IT aggregate web applications, SaaS applications, windows client-server applications, network shares, and native apps into the workspace of the future.

This is what we have built at Workspot. If you have time, would love your thoughts on our architecture:


Also Mark Bowker at ESG has been writing a bunch of articles on the workspace concept. Really good reading:



What are the main barriers preventing companies like Citrix or VMWare from taking over the VMI landscape and giving Hypori/Remotium/Nubo the opportunity to take leading roles?



Do you mean Citrix and VMware getting into VMI on their own, acquiring VMI vendors, or simply partnering with then?

For what it's worth, even though VMI can be seen as an alternative to MDM and MAM, almost all VMI vendors see a future working alongside EMM vendors. That could be by having EMM manage the VMI images, managing the VMI clients, or deploying EMM-managed local app alongside VMI remote apps. In all these cases, it would make sense for the EMM and VMI technologies to be integrated and aware of each other in some way.

Hypori already has a relationship with AirWatch, I would expect many other partnerships to come up soon. This is crucial so that customers can easily choose between VMI and MDM / MAM technologies and get the right tool for each use case. I'd hate for the "when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail" issue to come up with VMI.