Last week, security giant Symantec made an acquisition of a company that many may not know well, Nukona. The pricetag, while not disclosed, was likely small and the news was not a trending Twitter topic but this is a big deal, here’s why. Most enterprises, as they contemplate their mobile control plane, think largely of mobile device management (MDM.) While a critical component of managing mobility, MDM provides, at its core, little more than the policies already native in your email server, ActiveSync policies for Microsoft shops.
Having the ability to lock or wipe a device that’s gone missing or been nicked, control the use of data networks while roaming and enforce password policies are all critical tools, but they’re really just table stakes in the smartphone and tablet game. Where these devices truly shine is in being able to handle, manipulate and share data, and that’s where the action increasingly is in managing mobile. Just today collaboration and sharing vendor Box announced Box OneCloud, a network of third-party applications that will ultimately number more than 30 which will have seamless interaction with Box storage on the back end, allowing for easy editing, signing and sharing of enterprise documents on devices like an iPad with no accessible filesystem. In this way, Box becomes the de facto filesystem for mobile users. Great news for users, bad news for IT departments that have stopped building their mobile control plane at step 1, implementing MDM.
The Nukona buy is a small one in general, and especially for Symantec, but it’s giving credence to the growing flock of sub-genre players in the mobile control space, whose importance is growing exponentially as solutions like Box and other tools grow in popularity in the enterprise. Nukona’s tools provide enterprise IT departments a way to “wrap” applications to extend the levels of protection already in place for the physical device and its email store to the growing number of apps that are making a real difference in the utility of these devices.
The race is on to own this space; if the last 18 months saw everyone slapping “MDM,” “MAM,” or some other permuatation of “mobile X management” onto their branding, expect the next 18 to be fraught with acquisitions as security vendors, systems management vendors and enterprise software companies enter an arms race to own the control plane. Here’s what buyers and users need to know:
- If you’re a best-of-breed shop: This is a good time to be you. There is no shortage of smart folks cranking out tools to help secure, maange, track and otherwise ensure a solid experience for your mobile users. The trick is navigating the ecosystem. My next report, which will outline who to turn to for what is aimed at providing clarifty here. Keep an eye on makemobilework.com and on altimetergroup.com/research, it will be publishing in a month or so. Beyond simply navigating this tumultuous sea is the question of how the consolidation mentioned above will affect selection. Many great technologies will go the way of Nukona. This may make the decision around which large vendor to cozy up to easier, but it will decrease the options to be best-of-breed over the long term.
- If you’re looking for a large vendor parter: Hang tight; the true endpoint of consolidation, where one, large vendor can offer all the elements of the control plane is a ways off. In the interim, keep an eye on how the acquisitions are shaping up; choose one or two differentiated tools or functional areas where you’d like to place your major bets, follow those technologies as they are scooped up, if the process takes longer than 6 months, it’s likely that more attractive peers have been acquired or that these firms are overvalued from a VC standpoint. In the former case, taking a circumspect glance at said competition will provide an inkling of which large vendor to look at, in the latter, it’s OK to invest. Expect for the vendor to increase its areas of influence through strong partnerships of its own acquisitions, providing more value in the long run.
Still trying to get a handle on what the elements are that IT should own and have in place before these business tools should be let in? Tune in at 11AM US Pacific Time today/2PM US Eastern time to learn more: bit.ly/mobilecontrol. I’ll be posting slides later on today.