Citrix has a new-ish product called CloudGateway which is their product that combines the delivery and control of Windows, web, and SaaS apps. There are a few "editions" of CloudGateway, with CloudGateway "Express" being the new name / replacement for the free Web Interface component of XenDeskop and XenApp, and CloudGateway "Enterprise" which acts as an aggregation point and single interface for all of a company's Windows, web, and SaaS apps (and data, thanks to ShareFile). CloudGateway Enterprise is a great concept, but today's version of the product has a huge hole: While Citrix talks about it managing mobile apps, all it can do today for mobile devices is manage their access to web apps or deliver Windows apps remotely. But as we know, users love native apps on their phones, and to be a seriously contenter for managing "everything," Citrix is going to have to extend CloudGateway Enterprise to manage real native mobile apps.
The good news is that all signs are pointing to this changing soon. Citrix has been dropping hints recently—the CloudGateway homepage mentions supporting mobile apps, and a Citrix marketing video mentions mobile applications "in the very near future." Brian and I talked to Citrix about this last week, and they kept on saying that they'd be able to talk more about support for native mobile apps after their Synergy conference (which is now just a little over two weeks away).
So since I've spent the past six months digging into the mobile app management space on ConsumerizeIT.com, I thought I'd take a stab at making some predictions about what Citrix might announce at Synergy.
First, it’s likely that Citrix will acquire another vendor (versus building something themselves) to add native mobile app management to CloudGateway. There are dozens and dozens of vendors in this space, and clearly Citrix doesn't have a problem buying other companies to add specific capabilities to their own. Also, it would make sense that the second major component of their mobile solution would come in the same way that ShareFile did.
What is mobile application management?
The ability to manage native mobile apps on users' phones and tablets is called "Mobile App Management," or "MAM." You could almost think of mobile application management as a form of app virtualization for cell phones. It provides ways for IT to provision and deprovision native apps from mobile devices and add extra security features. Companies who write their own in-house mobile apps can upload the package files (.ipa for iOS and .apk for Android). Some MAM solutions also have built-in static testing for app security, so commercial mobile apps can be distributed with a “wrapper” that can intercept API calls and enable or disable certain functionality, and most also have SDKs for incorporating additional security features directly into in-house apps. For iOS users, some of these MAM products have the ability to manage Apple Volume Purchase Program redemption codes.
MAM is different from MDM ("mobile device management") in the same way that managing apps on users' computers is different than systems management. MDM is sort of the old school approach to mobile devices where the MDM software takes over or "owns" the device. That was fine a few years ago when the company bought the phones for employees, but now that employees want their own phones and they use their phones for all sorts of personal things, most employees don't want the company to install software to "own" their phones. (And most companies don't want to take on that risk. Would you want to be responsible for remote wiping a user's personal phone when they quit which caused them to lose all their photos?)
So over the past few years, we've seen these MDM vendors who've been around for a long time, plus these new scrappy MAM vendors of the past few years. (And of course, many of the older MDM vendors now claim to also have MAM capabilities, although you have to look at them on a case-by-case basis to see if they really have MAM capabilities of if they're just saying that because they manage the whole device, they can still control what apps go on it.)
When it comes to Citrix, everything about their approach to device management in general suggests that they'd want an MAM vendor rather than an MDM vendor. That was further reinforced by a recent blog post from Citrix's Natalie Lambert claiming that managing applications by way of managing devices is not what Citrix wants to do.
Who will Citrix buy?
Okay, now for the fun part. Based on what we can guess about Citrix's plans and all the mobile management vendors out there, who is Citrix going to buy? Since they clearly stated that application management by way of managing the device is out of the picture, Citrix will be looking for an application management that doesn’t rely on MDM. (Again, there are some MDM vendors that have app management solutions that can be deployed independently of the device management, but if they were acquired, there would be an unwanted MDM business left over.) So based on what I've been covering over the past several months on ConsumerizeIT.com, the following application-centric vendors could be acquisition targets for Citrix:
- Apperian This enterprise app store is also big on not managing devices. (Scroll down towards the bottom of their homepage. While they don’t say too much specifically about being anti-MDM anywhere in their collateral, as the saying goes, a picture’s worth a thousand words.) They also have an SDK for management features. (Apperian was featured as part of the BYOD Smackdown at ConsumerizeIT.com)
- Appcentral They talk about BYOD with barely a mention of MDM. They have an enterprise app store, app management, and monitoring solution. Their product has been out for just under a year.
- Partnerpedia was formally known as Constructive Media, and has been around for fifteen years creating Windows-based software, so they have more enterprise-level experience (and remember that ShareFile wasn’t a young company, either). They have an enterprise app store product and application management.
- App47 is a more MDM-friendly corporate app store provider. Their product has been out for less than a year.
Will Citrix acquire any of these vendors? Should they? We'll find out in a few weeks. What do you think?