Enterprise Applications takes a look at the MDM market and meets up with Bob Tinker, CEO of MobileIron.
Over the next five years, almost two-thirds of enterprises will adopt a mobile device management (MDM) solution, according to recent research from analysts at IT market research company Gartner.
If that prediction comes true, one of the software vendors most likely to prosper is MobileIron, a Mountain View, California-based MDM specialist that is consistently ranked by analysts, including Gartner, as a leader in this growing market. Back in May, the company raised $40 million from venture capitalists in a late-stage funding round that brings total investment to $97 million and valued that company at $600 million.
A MobileIron IPO can’t be far off now? “It’s the next step,” confirms CEO Bob Tinker, meeting with Enterprise Apps Expo for lunch on a recent trip to London. MobileIron customers, he says, include 200 of the Fortune 500 in the US and one-third of companies listed on the German DAX. Each quarter, the company adds between 500 and 600 new customer to that roll call. In the UK, customers include financial services giant Barclays, real estate investment trust Land Securities and local authority, the London Borough of Brent.
So why is MobileIron, along with other companies in the MDM software space, hot property right now?
The answer lies in the wide range of new mobile devices entering the workplace and knocking chunks out of the market share RIM BlackBerry once enjoyed among corporate customers. These devices include, for example, the iPhone 5 and Samsung Galaxy S3 smartphones and the iPad 4 and Nexus 10 tablets.
Over the next five years, says Gartner, nine out of ten companies will be supporting two or more mobile platforms. And in this multi-platform, multi-device future, corporate IT teams need a new way to secure, manage and monitor devices, whether they are employee-owned or company-issued. They used to use BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) to do this. Unlike BES, however, today’s MDM products can manage a wide range of devices, regardless of manufacturer or mobile operating system.
MDM platforms enforce passwords, allow IT to remotely wipe data from lost or stolen devices, provide a centralised audit trail for tracking log-ins and configuration changes, and, increasingly, deliver mobile apps securely to devices, at an average cost of $60 (around £37) per user, per year, according to Gartner analysts. In a May 2012 evaluation of 20 MDM vendors, they identified five companies as leaders: MobileIron, AirWatch, Fiberlink, Zenprise and Good Technologies.
In a similar evaluation by Forrester Research, conducted in January 2012, the following vendors were designated ‘innovators’ in this market: AirWatch, BoxTone, MobileIron and Zenprise. Those dedicated as ‘incumbents’, meanwhile, were Good Technology, Microsoft, RIM and Sybase.
For buyers, this can be a confusing market – and widespread market consolidation can be expected further down the line as larger software companies lacking key MDM capabilities snap up smaller specialists.
There are also deployment options to consider: some MDM platforms are available only for on-premise implementation; others for cloud-based deployment only; and increasingly, some can be deployed either way. According to Tinker of MobileIron (a company that offers both options), “Large multinationals, with complex infrastructure or security requirements, tend to deploy in-house, while midmarket companies are much more likely to go to the cloud for MDM.”
Very few organisations, however, apply a 100% company-wide BYOD policy yet. “Most typically, we see a mix of employee-owned BYOD devices and company-issued devices being managed by our MDM platform,” he says. “But which employees get BYOD as an option and which must use company devices is still very much a cultural question, which individual companies have to figure out for themselves.” Those that have figured it out, he adds, are moving beyond simply bringing devices under management and into a second phase of maturity, in which they look to use MDM as a corporate application storefront, from which mobile apps relating to company processes (for example, travel and expenses claims) are delivered directly to employees’ mobiles.
As Phil Redman of Gartner puts it: “This is just the start for MDM. More data is being put on mobile devices and enterprises are fast developing their own applications to support their mobile users. As mobile devices continue to displace traditional PCs, enterprises will look to their existing MDM systems to support more devices and enterprise applications and data.”
In other words, and as both Tinker and Redman have observed, MDM is moving beyond device security, to support applications, data and content. “In the next two years, we will continue to see MDM platforms broaden out and become more enterprise mobile system management platforms, not just for devices alone,” Redman predicts.