Surviving the impending MDM market consolidation

Citrix acquired Zenprise. IBM acquired Fiberlink. Then VMware acquired AirWatch. Microsoft turned around and launched the Microsoft Enterprise Mobility Suite. These four market events may indeed shape the future of the Mobile Device Management (MDM) market by sparking even further MDM market consolidation.

Jason Frye, senior director, Office of the CTO at BMC Software says:

This market has an interesting interplay of device and OS manufacturers, enterprise infrastructure vendors and companies attempting to position themselves as “mobile platforms.” On one side you have Microsoft and IBM attacking the market with a set of very compelling technologies. What’s even more interesting is the EMS platform from Microsoft that both commoditizes (Windows Intune) and provides a very capable enterprise platform via [the] EMS platform (especially with the identity management component).

The EMS solution will quickly drive out of the market any standalone or weakly associated MDM-only solutions. The device and OS manufacturers compound the pressure at the lower end of the market with exceedingly capable built-in MDM features.

We then look to the non-affiliated mobile platform companies like Good and Mobile Iron. Some may consider VMware and Citrix here, but I would argue that their focus is elsewhere.

These organizations face a strong challenge of being disconnected from the “hub” of IT. And while companies in this space provide some very compelling capabilities, I find it difficult to believe that major enterprise organizations will continue to be satisfied with having to integrate mobile platform providers into their existing IT service management and operations infrastructure.

Frye also points to BlackBerry as a potential MDM acquisition because of their core technology:

When you look at this space from the view of the CIO, you will find that they prefer not to have to purchase solutions like MDM as a standalone offering or even as part of a mobile enterprise management solution. They expect support for mobility management simply [to] be a feature of their larger service management solution and, to this point, we should expect the market to move quickly in this direction.

When asked about the next likely company looking to make a purchase in the MDM space, Jon Schoen, vice president of business development at Seismic, tells me in an email interview, “The easy answer to this would be to just say Apperian, given their customer base and relatively broad product offering. I think, however, that the next likely acquisition will be by a carrier looking to offer as close as possible to a virtualized environment to enterprise customers.”

We’ve seen the virtualization players acquire MDM capabilities (VMWare, Citrix, SAP, IBM) so that seems to be the trend for a convergence of MDM and a virtualized world,” he adds. “That said, I think OpenPeak could be a likely first target by a carrier partner like AT&T sometime very soon. Also, OpenPeak just added a former AT&T exec responsible for OpenPeak deployment to AT&T customers to its leadership team in a newly-created role of president.”

MDM market consolidation is only going to continue. In Part 2 tomorrow, I have some tips on how enterprises can survive MDM market consolidation.

Surviving the Impending MDM Market Consolidation, Part 2

As I showed in part 1, the mobile device management (MDM) market is still rich in acquisition targets. Enterprises relying on MDM should be attentive to this market. If their MDM provider gets acquired, it could affect their bring your own device (BYOD) and enterprise mobility strategies. At the least, it can affect the vendor/customer relationship.

Here are some survival tips for the impending MDM market consolidation.

1. Keep an open line of communication with your MDM vendor Keeping an open line of communication is perhaps the most important tip for surviving MDM market consolidation. Jeff Mitchell, vice president of sales at AirWatch, told me in an email that communication and consistency have been key to the AirWatch sales team throughout its acquisition by VMware. “We sent out several communications and held one-on-ones with customers, engaged closely with VMware reps and hosted joint briefings with the goal of sharing our joint vision and why our partnership is great for our customers.”

A Fiberlink spokesperson told me that clear and consistent communications with customers were essential in setting customer expectations during the startup’s purchase by IBM. The sales and support teams received relevant information to provide regular updates and answer customer questions.

If your MDM vendor isn’t communicative during an acquisition, press the vendor yourself.

2. Know the support transition plan It’s natural to expect that, once a large player acquires an MDM startup, the technical support team joins a larger support organization. Fiberlink said that preserving its reputation as a responsive and trusted EMM partner was a key goal during its transition. The startup wanted customers to have the same access to sales and support as they did before the acquisition.

3. Read the fine print Review your contract with your MDM provider, so you know your options in the event the vendor is acquired, especially when it comes to refunds, pricing guarantees, or other protections and incentives you might have available as a customer.

4. Know your MDM API requirements If you are using an application programming interface (API) to integrate your MDM with other applications, know your integration requirements in case you switch MDM solutions. Likewise, if your vendor is acquired, you need to ask how its API will fare in the new product roadmap.

5. Balance the innovation of a startup solution with an exit strategy Some of the more exciting product demos I’ve seen in the past year have been from MDM startups. My advice is not to shy away from a startup MDM vendor, but have an exit strategy if it goes out of business or if the terms of doing business with it after an acquisition no longer suit your needs.

This post was originally published in two parts on The Mobility Hub on May 27 & 28, 2014.

Image by adamr via

Will Kelly is a technical writer and analyst based in the Washington, DC area. His writing experience also includes writing technology articles for CNET TechRepublic and other sites. Will’s technology interests include collaboration platforms, enterprise mobility, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), project management applications, and big data. Follow him on Twitter: @willkelly.


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