In March, Symantec announced the acquisition of MDM provider Odyssey and mobile application management vendor Nukona. With 70 or so MDM providers in the field, consolidation and acquisitions are to be expected. The reasons and end results, though, can vary widely.
In Symantec’s case, it’s likely that they wanted Nukona and Odyssey to update their device management portfolio. As Gabe wrote yesterday, acquiring an MDM vendor is a way for Symantec to expand its reach as computing means more and more different platforms.
For Nukona the acquisition could mean becoming just another prong in an enormous application, device, and image management offering. Nukona has its app wrapping technology, where it can inspect .IPA and .APK packages and “wrap” them to have more control over security features. For example, an app could be distributed along with a code that prevents it from accessing a device’s camera or contacts list.
Symantec could even make a pretty cool consumer product out of this, where consumers could put security features around apps they download on their own. There’s a precedent for this with the Norton Snap QR Code Reader app, which is pretty cool.
With a company as big as Symantec, there’s always a bit of a fear that an acquisition like Nukona could get lost—Symantec’s list of products is huge.
Other options for MAM acquisitions
Where else could the acquisition of a mobile application management solution make sense? Mobile data management vendors are one obvious answer, but what comes to the forefront are desktop virtualization vendors as they move into a post-Windows world (and Citrix and VMware are on my mind because of the mentions of both of them on this site earlier this week).
One of my soapboxes is that regardless of whether or not you want to manage devices, mobile data management is a critical first step in enabling mobile computing to be really useful. With mobile data management, the first level of functionality that comes on day one is being able to simply view files on mobile devices. The next step is being able to open them in other unmanaged apps that users happen to have on their devices. The final logical step is being able to manage and distribute apps themselves that either have their own integrated data or take advantage of the data management solution that’s already in place.
Citrix is pretty far along in this scenario with ShareFile and Follow-Me-Data. Follow-Me-Data gets documents securely onto devices, and then users have a choice between native applications and Windows applications published by XenApp and accessed by Citrix Receiver. The next step would be for Citrix to build or acquire some sort of management for mobile applications. Sure, this goes against their background of being one of the more Windows-friendly desktop virtualization vendors, but with Citrix Receiver with ShareFile allowing native mobile apps to open documents, they’ve already tipped in the direction of accommodating mobile.
VMware has been telling a post-Windows story for quite a while now. Their mobile data management component is Octopus, and while we don’t know yet what the integration with Horizon or View will be like, I’m sure we can expect something similar to Citrix’s mobile Follow-Me-Data component. Again, a stronger mobile application management capability for Horizon would be make for a future mobile computing story that’s that much stronger.
Quest might also want to get into mobile data and application management, too. They have solutions to abstract and deliver Windows desktops; expanding to delivering mobile apps and data through acquisitions would be good to see from them, too. I could mention Wyse, as well, among others.
These offerings all leave Windows desktops as point solutions for legacy apps, emergency apps, or for when users need higher functionality than is built in mobile apps. I love that the desktop virtualization vendors are now starting to have real solutions for consumerization and mobile devices. For years they’ve been saying “yeah, we have that covered, we have remote desktop clients for those devices!” But that was only a stopgap measure. Now real stories for mobile devices are are emerging from them. (It will be interesting to see what comes up at Synergy and VMworld farther down the road.)
Getting back to acquisitions: there are any number of MAM providers out there that could be acquired to reinforce some of the bigger company’s mobile and post-Windows solutions. For Symantec, with its history of endpoint management, there will be a challenge in embracing managing just mobile applications instead of an entire device. And for the desktop virtualization vendors, the challenge will lie in embracing solutions that rely less and less on desktop virtualization. However, As excited as we get about the future, device management isn’t going to go away, and neither are Windows desktops. At the end of the day the crop of companies that interface with mobile devices is a good sign. Whether they grow on their own or get acquired, more and more organizations will be able to take advantage of mobility and consumerization.