For a few years now, the constant refrain about the enterprise mobility management space has been that with so many vendors, it’s ripe for consolidation. So it shouldn’t be too much of a shock that yesterday we learned that IBM is buying Fiberlink, makers of the MaaS360 EMM suite.
IBM’s recent mobility efforts have centered around a suite of products called MobileFirst. I’m actually not too familiar with it, but according to the website it has all sorts of components, including development and planning services, analytics, security, and basic mobile device management through IBM Endpoint Manager for Mobile Devices (which came with the BigFix acquisition in 2010).
By acquiring Fiberlink, IBM is getting a wider set of mobile device and app management capabilities. Fiberlink may have a slightly lower profile than the likes of AirWatch and MobileIron, but they bring a fairly complete package none the less. For MDM, Fiberlink support iOS, Android (including a range of custom versions of Android), Windows Phone, Symbian, Mac OS, and Windows. For mobile app management, they have apps for email, browsing, and file syncing, along with a MAM SDK and app wrapping tool.
The question is now that Fiberlink will be part of IBM, will it become a product that only IBM-centric companies buy? IBM touted planned integration with the rest of its products, and as Gabe said earlier this week, “There are two types of companies in the world, those that love IBM and those that stay the hell away from them.” If that’s the case, Fiberlink could lose some visibility among the non-IBM crowd, but on the other hand as a part of the IBM, Fiberlink’s technology could now be put in front of thousands of new customers that might not have considered it before.
There’s also the fear that “IBM is where companies go to die,” but looking at other recent EMM acquisitions, most of the acquiring companies (Citrix and Symantec, for example) are putting a lot of work into their offerings, a necessity in the still young and fast-moving EMM space.
Surely IBM buying Fiberlink will set off another round of matchmaking speculation for other EMM vendors (AirWatch and MobileIron will top that list, of course), so get ready for that, too.