Despite hiring Sumit Dhawan and Bob Schultz, VMware has no choice but to make a mobile acquisition

VMware continues to state that they are focused on three strategic legs with EUC as number three. So what can they do to achieve this?

VMware continues to state that they are focused on three strategic legs with EUC as number three. So what can they do to achieve this? They have a meaningful presence against Citrix in the VDI market as number two, but that’s not a high growth business that I would expect them to double down on, as can be seen from their most recent earnings transcript. Sure they’ll make incremental investments like a dedicated sales force for EUC and Desktone to grow, but I doubt DaaS and VDI are going to deliver results that move the needle at the required pace anytime soon.

So this leaves the other side of the EUC business, the mobile/cloud side, which clearly is a growth opportunity.  What does VMware have there? Well, Horizon App Manager, which is still young, and their mobile hypervisor offering, which is going to go nowhere since it’s limited to so few devices. These nascent offerings are further weakened due to the churn VMware has had in the mobile product team with the guy they hired from Microsoft to run the Horizon suite, Moe Khosravy, leaving after only 8 months. More recently Srinivas Krishnamurti from the mobile team left for a startup who gave an overview to this site last year on VMware’s EMM efforts, which have really gone nowhere since. Most recently their EUC CTO put out his thoughts for mobile/cloud, which are just vague generalities that are nowhere close to anything VMware offers, and certainly far from anything that is reality for customers.

Since these departures, they hired yet another GM, Sanjay Poonen, from SAP to run their business. Apart from the goodness that he actually tweets, we’ve seen nothing from him yet. I wonder how much his SAP DNA will help or hurt him. He is but one guy, and without a team who can actually execute what can he actually achieve? As far as I can tell, there is nobody internally with the ability to explain or drive the EUC strategy, which is why VMware has hired both Sumit Dhawan and Bob Schultz away from Citrix.

Sumit is known by many as the first person to organize the Citrix CTP community. He’s a marketing guy who became the VP of Mobile until Zenprise was acquired, and then became part of the XenMobile team. I’ve also heard a rumor that Shankar Iyer, Citrix’s VP of Receiver has also left after the XenMobile integration after announcing him as a key hire from Cisco two years ago. I have not heard that Shankar is going to VMware, though.

Bob was the GM for XenDesktop and XenApp after coming from HP as a GM type. He took over from the previous GM who got fired and is now CEO at NComputing. I’ve heard Schulz was not given the job to replace the outgoing SVP/GM Gordon Payne who for months has been rumored to be leaving Citrix. Instead, Citrix hired a new guy from Polycom, Sudhakar Ramakrishna. So it appears that Citrix has had their fair share of executive roulette of late as well.

Now that we know Sumit and Bob are going to VMware, I still have questions about the technical vision and leadership to make products and solutions happen in the real world. No disrespect to them, but they aren’t technical guys. It seems like VMware hired the Citrix B team to lead whatever they may have planned. It simply amazes me why vendors continue to throw executives who are not technical product people, coming from a competitor with a track record of building average customer solutions, and expect them to solve real world customer problems. Now I could be wrong, and Poonen could have a grand plan to balance the team with technical talent, but experience tells me that most MBA GM types have no freaking clue when it comes to EUC related tech and what matters.

So, I think VMware will have no choice but to buy into the game, and integrate products that these former Citrix execs will push along to squeeze out growth as opposed to what customers really want. It’s the classic playbook, as opposed to being a true product company with technical leadership, which I think is lacking big time in the EUC industry.

So how long will it be before VMware announces a mobile acquisition? They really have no choice, in my opinion.

When I think about this, the obvious choice is to buy a leader in the MDM space, as that seems to be a basic requirement that all expect no matter how much it sucks. It would be obvious to buy either Airwatch or Mobile Iron in this space to inject VMware into many accounts and create many good partner opportunities. That would hurt Citrix, who is begging partners to sell XenMobile (which is not a great product, anyway).

Of the two, I think Mobile Iron is the most likely fit due to location. I’ve been trying to really understand the difference between Airwatch and Mobile Iron the last few months and nobody has given me a good technical answer. What I have discovered is that in general it comes down to this: Airwatch, based in Atlanta, is big, so I have reasonable confidence in their support, great at quickly supporting many devices, very bullish CEO who has enough money to not give a crap about selling early. Mobile Iron, on the other hand, is more of a classic VC backed company. They have a reasonable product, although it’s worrying that Noah Wasmer, their VP of products, has left them for Apple. Their support is average, but always willing to help. There’s not much difference between them in terms of product, so I think VMware would most likely choose location as the deciding factor, and that would be Mobile Iron since they are based in Mountain View, CA.

Good may be another unexpected but shrewd move, although I still hate their client (relatively speaking... it's not as good as the native clients). This would instantly put VMware in the position as the trusted email provider to the enterprise, with a platform to get into apps etc. securely.

I also think VMware could pick up one of the many small MDM vendors just to tick a box on the feature comparisons to keep up with the likes of IBM and Symantec. Then, they could buy other mobile capabilities quickly which, in theory, may be easier to integrate. Although if they did that, they wouldn’t get the customer impact they are looking for.

Another approach may be for Poonen to partner with his old buddies at SAP and strategically use SAP as VMware’s MDM solution, but acquire value that adds on top of it when needed. Perhaps if the EUC thing doesn’t work out, it’ll be a way for VMware to spin out things. If you listen to @virtualtal, he’ll tell you that he thinks VMware will be out of the EUC business in 18 months. I personally don’t think they will do that, given the amount of public commitment they have made. However they can’t sit there and grow EUC at single digit pace either.

VDI and DaaS are not going to drive growth at the rate they expect. VMware has a ton of cash on hand, and if they are really are going to back up their commitment to EUC as a strategic leg, given their lack of technical leadership, they have no choice but to buy quickly and move aggressively into mobile.

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Good write up. I agree that MobileIron would be only suitable Gartner Leader MQ option left, now that IBM snapped up Fiberlink at the end of last year.  Oh, Oracle buying the small Bitzer Mobile too.


Interesting points, Appdetective. I always enjoy reading your posts.

You didn't mention that VMware also hired Kit Colbert as CTO of EUC this week to replace Scott Davis. Colbert is certainly "technical" - he was the chief architect for vCenter Operations and vCloud Automation Center and also created Storage vMotion. His technical experience can only help VMware's EUC strategy.

In regards to mobile acquisition, they have  an EMM suite for mobile management via Horizon Workspace -- You didn't mention that one -- what is it missing that could be filled by MobileIron or AirWatch? (I agree that both are ripe for acquisition).

Thanks -



Nice article, VMware is missing or immature in 3 main pieces for EUC.

1. No Xenapp type solution

2. Mobile mgmt

3. Horizon data is too immature

More and more enterprises want to ditch their dependency on Windows for desktops or at least reduce to enable mobile plans. This rules out VMware because of their lack of features outside of View or Mirage.

Buying mobile iron or airwatch would help. Why don't they talk to EMC and look at using Syncplicity rather than Hoirzon data. Otherwise another purchase is needed.

And that still leaves the need to an application presentation method.


@AppDetective - Thanks for helping me with my own analysis of the recent events.

@Bridget - Thank you for that extra tidbit.

Here's my take => It's not really poaching. This exodus is great for Citrix and will be a handicap for VMWare. These may be the folks "who in theory" were moving the XenApp and XenDesktop needle forward but, according to some inside sources, were actually THE root cause of much of the execution talent (good technical and customer PM's and developers) that had left over the last 3 years.

Back to topic: If we think of what's currently missing from the VMware portfolio is comprehensive integration that is beginning to come to fruition with Horizon.

They can then acquire an application streaming service or talent (MainFrame2?) for their on-demand cloud service.

This is all happening as industry maturity unfolds with players such as Amazon, Microsoft, and Google.


@ Bridget

Horizon Mobile is far from a completed product. Even with an MDM offering. So calling it an EMM offering is laughable. Another case of VMWARE marketing and product being 2 years apart.


Linking desktop, virtual or conventional to mobile content and vice versa is the key inside and outside the firewall, many of the MDM solutions do not support this effectively.


@Bridget The CTO is a welcome change and something VMware needed to do several years ago. I don't know though how this guy will do, as I see nothing in his background that gives me high confidence that he is credible in EUC. Sure he's done Workspace, but that's so early and removed from customer reality and is mostly fluffy clouds stuff that is several years away. So he may be great at creating and helping as @SillyRabbit suggest a more integrated strategy connected with the existing VMware portfolio. Just not convinced this will do much to address what customers really need but could be good for VMware and why I think they went with somebody internally.

If you look at his Linked in profile, has only ever worked at VMware and why I have doubts he gets EUC and what matters to customers, vs. just being an engineer type who made it up through to the ranks. Sure he did a nice job on the keynote, but that's like saying Demo Brad from Citrix who does an amazing job at demos would make a great CTO and drive towards what matters for customers and be able to pull it off. I wish him luck anyway and it's 1000% an upgrade from a 1% predecessor.

In terms of mobility, VMW have nothing, what they have is a mess with no leadership that get's it, I agree with other comments on this. This is why I think they will buy in to this space. They have not said the word mobility for Summit and I doubt Bob knows anything about the space and their CTO is green here also. They will bolster this I think my making the CEO of whom ever they buy, a GM of mobility to fill out the team.

@SillyRabbit agree, always a danger that dead wood is dead wood that remains dead. However with a new fire perhaps in burns better. Overall I think VMW stronger in this space is welcome news as it put's Citrix under pressure who need a good kick to make things better for us.


Comments here are funny.  The article is funny as well.  The stories on this site have become an Echo Chamber heralding the demise of the desktop.  

I am here to remind you that rumor of the death of the desktop are greatly exaggerated. MDM may be an emerging space but you guys seem to think that if the desktop platforms like VMware and Citrix don't do MDM right that it will be their demise.

Here is a secret, this will not be "the year of MDM.” Well, it might be but not because of any one solution.  MDM is doing quite well because it is a "problem" already being solved in a number of the Mobile Device OS level, at the app level, and at the SaaS level.

You think that with budget crunches and the economy still struggling that most organizations really care about MDM?  It's a nice to have, not a must have.  Don't believe the security scare or hype.  Every industry thinks they can get adoption with a security scare.  While there may be some truth to that being a market mover, it is in reality a weak proposition.  MDM is no different.  

It was the same with VDI!  Look back at 2004 and 2005; we were all selling VDI as a control feature, lockdown, more secure. central we are marketing how open and seamless VDI is with applications, performance, etc. and guess what?  It's finally taking off!

The demise of the desktop is not upon us and most admins could care less about MDM right now at a time when they are just figuring out the desktop.

VMware and Citrix are both well poised to continue to take advantage of the current and future state of growth in the industry by focusing on the desktop.  

I am not saying that they should not have MDM or other futures in the works. What I am saying is that is not where they should be focusing. This will not be the year of MDM, and the next several years won't be either!

MDM is being solved at a whole other layer.  Individual apps like mail are already secure....lose your device; your system admin can remotely wipe your Exchange settings including your contacts.  SaaS apps like SalesForce can also immediately be crippled.  I don't see a real use case for MDM because "MDM" is being solved at the App layer largely.  

MDM has already become a commodity.  Sorry to break the news to you.  Let's get back to our regularly scheduled program of focusing on the desktop and let MDM solve itself.

VMware has made some good exec moves here.  Kit has the background and knowledge to make Horizon View dominate at a time when people are questioning their desktop strategy built on legacy physical and terminal services environment.  I am not sure Davis was the guy for the job, he'll likely excel in his new role.

Citrix has encountered a few bumps lately with Templeton's very sad personal situation.  If they get back to their roots of caring about their partners (both channel and ISV) hey'll get it sorted out too.  

There are enough bloody desktops in the world for all to grow for sometime, Windows continues to dominate at the virtual level.  Let's don't get ahead of oursevles of where the real world problems and business are just because many of us are forward thinkers.


Indeed VMware has a team, but what about the products?

They can address their Horizon debacle by purchasing something like Watchdox, which is what MobileIron lacks as well. It will position them better to compete with Citrix.


Pretty much agree. Kit will be a great EUC CTO. I think MDM is crap, VMware should buy Nutanix or Atlantis Computing, technologies that would compliment their sever/cloud/network virtualization portfolio, definitely not Mobile Iron. Citrix is killing it with the Framehawk acquisition.


@echochamber I don't think you actually understand the articles message. I'm not saying desktop virtualization won't grow or even talking about it. Sure MDM is a commodity, which means it's expected and VMware don't have it. I think you are smoking crack about Horizon View and I see no correlation between Kit and anything VDI. Citrix as they get bigger like VMware will not care about partners unless it's bottom feeding accounts. I 100% agree with you that the real world of enterprise is very much Windows Desktops and hope the vendors stay focused.


Slightly off topic...

I'm not smoking crack (knowingly) but for me the perfect acquisition for VMware ECU would be Numecent.

Cut losses with ThinShite and move forward with application jukebox.

Surprised they have not been snapped up already.


Has there been any talk about acquiring Sphere 3D for their Glassware 2.0 solution?  They recently acquired V3 Systems and seem to have some features that could benefit VMware.  The ability to bring legacy or 3rd party software to any cloud BYOD.....independent of its operating system.