Earlier this week I wrote about what VMware would need to do in order to catch up to Citrix’s mobile offerings. Considering these mobile application management solutions brings up an interesting question: is MAM vendor lock-in or interoperability an issue that should cause concern for potential customers and the industry as a whole?
What we (might) want
First, what type of solution am I talking about? I’m referring to the corporate ecosystem that results when you wire together a sandboxed email client, managed applications, and a file syncing app. Corporate documents, attachments, and contacts stay inside the walled garden, where they can be encrypted, password protected, remote wiped, and otherwise managed to varying degrees; corporate IT doesn’t have to worry about policing personal applications and users get to retain their privacy. MDM for device level control may or may not be a part of such solution.
At this point we have to pretty much assume that all these components (email client, MAM tools, and file sync) have to come from one vendor in order for everything to work together. And so given that assumption, we then have to ask which of the following components and features are provided by a any particular vendor:
- Does the vendor have partners with compatible apps?
- Are compatible apps available from public app stores?
- Can app wrapping to plug apps into the other components?
- How about an SDK?
- Does it include a file sync (Dropbox-like) product? And is that in the cloud or on-prem?
- Does it include an email client?
- Does it integrate with identity management, desktop, or other products?
Which of these features is important to you? The requirements that you come up with will likely make narrow down prospective vendors for you. But also, we’re early in the MAM game right now, so who knows if what seems important right now will still be so in a year or two.
How do you solve this? -or- Do we need this at all?
How do we solve this compatibility problem? It’s like the old joke: A patient says to a doctor, “Doctor, it hurts when I do this!” And the doctor replies, “Then don’t do that!”
The simple solution is to just let everything live on the device without containers or sandboxing. MAM would still have a place for managing apps, but they could communicate natively with email and file syncing apps using all the existing functionality in the OS and built-in email client. Then you could use MDM to watch out for data-leaking apps and malware, you could just use EAS for basic protection, or you could roll the dice and hope users don’t do anything too stupid (and probably refresh your resume, too). There are plenty of other scenarios, however; I’m just pointing out a few examples.
Also, there’s this whole debate about split personality. My personal opinion—which is supported by my own experience and a very unscientific poll of the three other TechTarget employees that happen to sit near me—is that most users would be fine with clicking on a separate app to get their work email.
Or maybe the interoperability issue will be solved by some some vendor creating the de facto standards for sandboxed corporate apps? Maybe...
Back to the point
Arguments about dual personas/corporate ecosystems/sandboxed email aside, how do you decide which platform/stack/vendor to hitch your wagon to? And will a lack of interoperability hurt smaller offerings that don’t have all of the necessary pieces?
Let us know what you think in the comments!