Q&A with John Marshall of AirWatch

MDM market to consolidate into a few key players in next 2 to 3 years

The introduction of smartphones and tablets into the consumer market has led to a flood of personal mobile devices in the workplace that is threatening to overwhelm IT departments. Firms like AirWatch are there at the ramparts helping IT fend off security threats, while maintaining order within the organization.

Founded in 2003 by John Marshall and Alan Dabbiere, AirWatch has grown to more than 7,000 enterprise customers around the world and was named a leader in Gartner's 2013 Magic Quadrant for Mobile Device Management Software market. As part of its expansion strategy, AirWatch acquired Motorola Solutions' Mobile Services Platform, to expand its position in the rugged device market.

But enterprise mobility management isn't just about device management anymore, explains founder and CEO John Marshall. In an interview with FierceMobileIT, Marshall relates how the MDM market is expanding to include mobile application and content management as well. Marshall sees the MDM market consolidating into a few leading vendors in the next two to three years.

FierceMobileIT: How do you see the BYOD trend impacting the demand for MDM?

Marshall: BYOD is having an explosive impact on demand for MDM. Overall, there is a combination of BYOD, corporate-owned devices, plus lots of applications and content floating around in the enterprise. When I think about MDM, I think of the broader play around enterprise mobility management encompassing apps and content. And that is what is driving BYOD: providing access to these applications and all of this content from any device, anywhere, and doing it in a secure way.

FierceMobileIT: Do you think CIOs and IT departments are getting frustrated with BYOD and clamping down because of the security risks?

Marshall: A year ago when everyone was talking about BYOD, it was just one of those terms that was hot. There was a lot of buzz about it, but it wasn't really well understood: how to implement the program, the technology options, etc. I think the BYOD market has matured. Companies now have a real strategy ... CIOs are looking at BYOD as a tool in the toolkit and a way to enable their employees, vendor partners, contractors or suppliers. Overall, it is not chaos anymore or a buzz word, it is a real strategy.

I think there is a maturity of business processes and strategy that is greater than MDM. It is taking place around network access control, governance policies, stipends--all of those elements are coming together. The enablers are allowing BYOD to accelerate. The reason that BYOD was hitting stumbling blocks six to 12 months ago was not really about the technology. It was about: What is the business driver? What is the governance policy? Is there a stipend? How do I enforce the policy? What users should still get corporate devices? What users should bring their own devices? Who is allowed to bring a device and what types of devices are allowed on the network? All of those questions and uncertainties were essentially slowing down the progression of BYOD. Part of the reason it is accelerating now is that the demand has been there but the speed bumps are being removed.

FierceMobileIT: Could you explain more about the trend toward enterprise mobility management and combining MDM and mobile application management solutions?

Marshall: This is a trend that has been maturing for a while. It is more than app management. We include content management into the equation as well. There is a reason why people need mobile devices. It's about business productivity by extending enterprise applications and business productivity by extending corporate content. All of these elements are tightly coupled. The reason there are no longer standalone solutions is that you have to have some level of integration between security, apps and content. It's all merging together, and that trend is accelerating.

FierceMobileIT: What role should MDM play in enterprise BYOD policies?

Marshall: BYOD can be broken down into different user roles, different types of knowledge workers, different types of information stored on the device, different information security levels. When you get past the initial layer of thinking about BYOD and you break it down one more level, you get segments of users. Certain segments of users only want email. I don't think you need MDM for that segment. You might just have a container with email in it. You might have a segment of users who just wants one app. In that mode, you can just have an app that has been wrapped with encryption and security around it. Those use cases don't require MDM at all. They require secure app or secure email solutions.

Where the value of MDM comes in is you have a segment of users that can bring their own device, but they need substantial access to corporate resources. They need to get on the Wi-Fi network. They need to be able to authenticate through certificates where companies have advanced security, such as a financial institution, government or oil company.  They need to be able to link into an intranet or SharePoint. That is where MDM is a great enabler because it helps enable the device by putting in all the security certificates, profiles and policies that allow that device to easily get access to enterprise resources. That is the difference I see between containerization and MDM. If you want some tactical component, then that is where containerization can be valuable. But if you want broad access to corporate resources that have to be enabled through more advanced settings, policies and configurations, that is where MDM is the great enabler.

With AirWatch, we take an agnostic approach. We help companies, whether they want just MDM or just containerization, or a hybrid mix. I think that is the big evolution that is happening right now. Companies want a hybrid approach because they want some users for enablement purposes or security purposes to have MDM, and then they want other users from a liability perspective or just an ease of use to have just containerized email.

FierceMobileIT: Do you think that enterprises should require employees to sign an agreement that specifies what the enterprise can do with the personal device and what rights the employees have when they bring their personal devices into work?

Marshall: We see it differently. We see it as a two-way street. It is not always about the enterprise putting a terms of use in place. It is also about the end user understanding exactly what is happening with their device. In most cases, none of our customers have a written agreement because it is automated during the enrollment process. But the end user should be informed about what changes are going to happen to that device and what management policies are being put in place. The enterprise should inform the end user about the changes that are about to happen and about the policies. So it is not one side or the other. The end users should be informed. They should know if GPS location services are going to be enabled. Or they should know if the enterprises can wipe their device. Or they should know if they are going to have applications removed if they leave the company, just like the enterprise should have protections in place. We see it as a mutual process and mutual information sharing.   

FierceMobileIT: Apart from a formal agreement, should there be an "opt in" process so that the employee has to actively say, 'Yes, I agree to all of these provisions'?

Marshall: I absolutely agree that there should be an "opt in." If a company forces a user to use a mobile device to do their job--for instance, a mobile point of sale device in a retail environment--that can be a corporate-owned, corporate-provided device. Or if somebody is required to be on call 24/7, you can make an argument that that is a great scenario for a corporate provided device ... If a device is a nice to have in order to make it more productive for the end user, easier to interact with the company, and a convenience for the company and the end user, that is a good candidate for a BYOD device. In that case, the end user should have the ability to opt in or opt out. It can't be a device that is required for somebody in a mission critical job because they have to be able to perform their job. This goes back to the issue of segmentation: which candidates are good for BYOD and which should still have a corporate owned device.

FierceMobileIT: Why did you decide to buy Motorola Solutions' Mobility Service Platform and how is the integration process going?

Marshall: The integration process is going well and that is because we've had a five- or six-year legacy of building solutions for this rugged device industry. So we have probably 70 percent to 80 percent of the feature sets that are included in the Motorola platform. They have an extremely talented development team that has joined AirWatch, and they are helping to accelerate the process ... We plan to have a majority of the integration of the features completed in the next two quarters.

In terms of why we decided to acquire them, it was really a mutual process. Motorola has a strong presence in mission-critical mobile device operations, such as field service support and retail--everything that is mission critical to a company's existence, their supply chains, their factories, their warehouses. These are scenarios where Motorola devices are used. When Motorola and AirWatch really looked at the overlap of our customer bases, it was the right place for us to come together. They have a great platform, and we will continue to provide support for their customers and help them with a more holistic solution. The acquisition extends our leadership in the rugged device space. Motorola manages their devices better than anyone else, and they are the market leader in terms of their devices. We already provide a solution in this area, but this helps push us into the market leadership role for all of these rugged devices ...

FierceMobileIT: How do you see the MDM market evolving over the next 10 years?

Marshall: MDM becomes a true platform. It is a platform and a new space. So it is not an individual practical solution. We are now thought of as the critical platform in a mobile strategy. The big evolution is that mobility is strategic. Now, the platform to manage, enable, and secure mobile devices is strategic as well. We see that there will only be a couple of dominant market leaders over the next two to three years. This will happen much faster than ten years. We really see the feature set expanding quite quickly and becoming incredibly strategic and an integral part of our customers' enterprise strategy and overall innovation.

FierceMobileIT: What keeps you up at night?

Marshall: First of all, I try not to sleep. It slows me down. What keeps me up at night is the pace of innovation and how we can stay in front of that innovation and execute in a global way. Not only are we innovating faster and moving ahead quite rapidly in the market, but we are also executing on a global basis with some of the largest customers in the world. We want to make sure that we maintain that leadership position.

FierceMobileIT: Any other thoughts on the MDM market?

Marshall: The big difference a year or two ago was that the MDM decisions were being made by an IT manager or director. We didn't have as much senior level visibility. This space is becoming so strategic and the platform is growing so quickly and aligning with so many things for an enterprise. It is amazing how quickly our customers are building a partnership with us at executive and senior levels, and starting to share mobility strategy with us so that we can be on the same page. We are no longer just a tactical solution doing some security and policy management, but an integral part of their mobility strategy. It is an exciting opportunity as we become a much broader platform and more global every day. We see this market evolving quickly and BYOD is driving that process.