Citrix Has Company With VMwares AirWatch Acquisition

VMware’s $1.5 billion acquisition of mobile device manager AirWatch brings the IT giant on par with a major competitor and leaves the two alone as organizations that manage virtual desktops, SaaS applications and mobile devices and mobile applications, an industry analyst told CMSWire.

VMware, a cloud software provider, through yesterday's acquisition beefed up its mobile security capabilities in the enterprise, extended its proposition from data-center to device and positioned itself for the mobile-cloud era. 

All About Competition

What it also did was catch up VMware to Citrix, one of its closest competitors in this space, said Brett Waldman, research manager in client virtualization software for the International Data Corporation.

“With this acquisition, it brings VMware in-line with Citrix as the only two companies to be able to manage virtual desktops, SaaS applications, and mobile devices and mobile applications,” Waldman told CMSWire. “Microsoft could also been seen doing this; however, few companies trust Microsoft to manage their Android and iOS devices today. AirWatch will also give VMware some basic laptop management capabilities that Citrix does not have.”

VMware’s private-cloud competitors are primarily Microsoft, Red Hat, HP, IBM and some smaller vendors, Waldman added. For its “End User Computing,” the area in which VMware says AirWatch’s mobile device management capabilities will greatly help, the main foe for VMware is Citrix. Though, Microsoft, NComputing, Virtual Bridges and Dell (who is also a partner) are ones to watch here, too.

By acquiring AirWatch, VMware answers some other industry moves by competitors, said IDC’s Ben Hoffman, a research analyst focusing on enterprise and mobility.

“This was definitely, at least in part, a reactive move to IBM's acquisition of MaaS360, Oracle's acquisition of Bitzer, and perhaps most significantly, Citrix's acquisition of Zenprise,” Hoffman said. “With that said, there was much benefit to be had for both VMWare and AirWatch, so the move was equally proactive.”

Why AirWatch?

Mobile market analyst Brian Katz blogged that VMware knew it had to dive into mobile -- and part of this was bringing in SAP’s Sanjay Poonen, now the executive vice president and general manager for VMware.

“Airwatch has a long history, starting as Wandering WiFi and then pivoting into the MDM space after the iPhone came out and smartphones became mainstream,” Katz wrote. “John Marshall, their CEO, has been laser focused in building the ‘biggest and best’ MDM company around and yet wasn’t afraid to be challenged and react to those challenges. What had started out as an MDM only company quickly morphed into and EMM (Enterprise Mobility Management) play where AirWatch took on the challenges of content and app management.”

AirWatch, as of 2012, was the third largest Mobile Enterprise Management (MEM) vendor on a revenue basis, behind only SAP and Good Technology, Hoffman told CMSWire. It has 1,600 employees, up nearly 100 percent from last year.

“Because of their unified platform and code base, companies can purchase a comprehensive, turnkey solution for all of their enterprise mobility needs,” Hoffman said of AirWatch. “They also have a vast partnership network which has certainly helped them.”

More Coming in Year or So

Going forward, everything is becoming tied to mobile, cloud and big data, Hoffman said, and it’s only a matter of time before companies like Good Technology and MobileIron are attractive acquisition targets.

They could be scooped up within a six- to 18-month timeframe. Acquiring companies could include the likes of HP, Microsoft and SAP.

“It is becoming natural,” Hoffman said, “for companies like VMWare and Citrix to consider mobility as the key to future growth and success.”

Title image by vichie81 (Shutterstock).