At Citrix Synergy in May, Citrix showed a quick view of a native mobile email client. While we didn’t even know whether or not it was an actual product, we still wondered if the email client plus all the new features of CloudGateway meant that Citrix would be competing with Good Technology. (podcast|article) We can now say that the answer is yes: at the CloudGateway 2 release event last month, Citrix confirmed that they will soon be offering an email client. (This wasn't mentioned in any press releases or blog posts, just in the live event.)
Why are email clients in particular such a big deal? The clients that are built into mobile operating systems are designed for sharing information with other applications on the device. That means that corporate contacts, calendars, and emails can be read by any random app—an obvious security concern. Using a sandboxed third-party email client helps avoid this problem, at the cost of having to jump through some hoops to make sure that corporate apps can integrate with email and contacts. Mobile application management (MAM) solutions often do this through app-wrapping, SDKs for home built apps, and partnering with other app providers to offer app-to-email-client interconnectivity off the shelf.
There are a growing number of vendors offering these sandboxed email clients. Good Technology was one of the first, even predating the iPhone and Android revolution. Now, however, there are many mobile device management and mobile app management vendors offering these solutions, along with several companies that have backgrounds delivering Windows desktops and applications. Citrix's email client will be "MDX ready," which implies that it will be able to plug into Citrix Receiver, ShareFile, and be managed using CloudGateway.
The question now is whether customers in search of mobile solutions will go to Good and other companies that focus on mobile or if they’ll go with broader offerings like Citrix. It’s possible Good’s email client is better than Citrix’s, but since Citrix’s main business is desktops and Windows apps, Citrix can offer its mobile products as in inexpensive or free value-add. While Citrix will be able to say “we do everything,” look for Good to be saying “we do one thing, but better.”
Citrix and Good (and AppSense, MobileIron, Apperian, Enterproid, AT&T Toggle, OpenPeak, and probably a dozen other vendors) will also be competing based on their ecosystems of connected apps. Most of these vendors are quick to point out their efforts to partner and integrate with as many ISVs as possible, so look for size and scope of these ecosystems to be a big deciding factor, too.