Citrix hasn't exactly been gung-ho about mobile device management, so its decision to buy Zenprise for $355 million is a little puzzling.
Back in June, Citrix executive Jesse Lipson told me the company was considering adding mobile device management (MDM) to its portfolio. He described it as a sort of stopgap measure; Citrix's focus is on mobile application management (MAM) with its CloudGateway product, but most organizations aren't ready for that yet.
"We can't totally wait for the market to catch up and understand that MAM is really more the wave of the future," said Lipson, Citrix's vice president and general manager for data sharing.
In a follow-up post by Jack Madden, Citrix again expressed interest in MDM -- particularly the features that directly relate to MAM, such as the ability to uninstall iOS apps from devices. In this context, acquiring Zenprise makes sense for Citrix. But it leaves out one important piece of information: the price tag. Yesterday, Forbes reported that Citrix acquired Zenprise for $355 million.
That may not seem like a lot compared to, say, VMware's $1.26 billion acquisition of Nicira, but software-defined networking is a hot topic, and it's expected to become a big part of VMware's business. Mobile device management, on the other hand, is not a hot topic, and it's not expected to become a big part of Citrix's business. Citrix has said so itself.
"I personally think that the approach CloudGateway has taken, that's going to be the best approach a couple years from now, but we need to also look at the world of today and throw some occasional MDM features in," Lipson said in June.
MDM has some value, and it is a good first step up the enterprise mobility ladder, but it basically takes the old way of managing IT and applies it to the new way of doing business. That's not a recipe for future success.
By focusing on mobile application management, Citrix already has that recipe. MDM may be a necessary stopgap or checkbox technology, and Zenprise may offer some features that work well with Citrix's MAM. But $355 million seems like a steep price to pay.