Category Archives: Mobile Device Management IMDM)

BMC Still Likelier to Buy than to be Bought

After reading a recent Network Computing piece on BMC Software, it struck me that the management-software purveyor finds itself in a Darwinian dilemma: acquire or be acquired.

If it chooses to acquire, something to which it has not been averse previously, BMC might wish to make a play in enterprise mobility management (EMM) or mobile device management (MDM). As the article at Network Computing explains, that is a current area of need for BMC.  There’s no shortage of fish in that pond, and BMC is likely to find one at the right price.

Conversely, BMC might decide that it can’t compete in the long run with much bigger systems-management rivals such as IBM, HP, Microsoft, and Oracle. Even as BMC continues its transition toward defining itself as a multiplatform, hardware-neutral cloud-management vendor, it might conclude that the odds and resources stacked against are too great to overcome.

Dell Could Come Knocking

That, though, is by no means inevitable. The company has been independent for a long time — about 31 years, if we’re counting — and it has been subject to almost as many takeover rumors in the last few years as has F5 Networks. Still, like F5, it remains an independent company, and it might continue to do so indefinitely.

Nonetheless, if BMC finally chose to entertain a buyer, Dell might be at the front of the queue. Yes, we know that Dell is shopping for other goods — Dario Zamarian, Dell’s networking GM and SVP, has suggested that a purchase in L4-L7 network services might be forthcoming — and BMC’s price tag might be a bit steep (its market capitalization is about $6 billion).

Then again, Dell sees itself as an up-and-coming player in converged data-center infrastructure, and BMC offers management-software capabilities that Dell might need if it is to weave a compelling cloud-management narrative.

Intangibles and Existing Partnership

As for intangibles, Dell and BMC are very familiar with one another. The companies have partnered since 2002, working to accelerate IT deployment and configuration in a growing number of data centers. Dell has been a BMC customer for many years, too. Last and least, they’re both Texas-based companies.

The current arrangement between the two companies involves integration of Dell’s Advanced Infrastructure Manager (AIM) with BMC’s Atrium Orchestrator. It also encompasses BMC Asset Management as well as integration between BMC Server Automation (part of the BMC BladeLogic Automation Suite) and the Dell Lifecycle Controller.

If Dell were to acquire BMC, it obviously would want to squeeze more from the marriage. One possible scenario would involve Dell recreating and expanding upon the sort of engagement BMC has with Cisco pertaining to the latter’s Unified Computing System (UCS).

Congruent Messages

In this case, though, BMC’s software would be wedded to Dell’s evolving Virtual Integrated System (VIS). A lot of the marketing language Dell uses on its website is uncannily similar to the sort of pitch BMC makes for its cloud-management software. Both companies talk about automating and simplifying data-center environments, they both emphasize management of physical and virtual infrastructure, and they both stress the openness of their respective architectures, especially the ability to manage multiplatform (and multivendor) hardware and software.

In selling itself to Dell, though, BMC would be walking away from its relationship with Cisco, and its partnerships with some others, too. What’s more, Dell would assume ownership of some parts of the BMC business, such as mainframe-management software, that might not seem a great fit, at least at first glance.  Still, a Dell-BMC combination seems more plausible than fanciful.

If I were to wager on whether BMC will buy or be bought, though, it’s probably easier to imagine it buying an EMM or MDM vendor than to envision it getting scooped up at a potentially considerable premium by Dell (or another vendor). Even so, either outcome is within the realm of rational deduction.

Google Move Could Cause Collateral Damage for RIM

In a move that demonstrates Google’s willingness to embrace mobile-device heterogeneity in the larger context of a strategic mandate, Google today announced that it would bring improved mobile-device management (MDM) functionality to its Google Apps business customers.

No Extra Charge

On the Official Google Enterprise Blog, Hong Zhang, a Google software engineer, wrote:

“Starting today, comprehensive mobile device management is available at no extra charge to Google Apps for Business, Government and Education users. Organizations large and small can manage Android, iOS and Windows Mobile devices right from the Google Apps control panel, with no special hardware or software to manage.

In addition to our existing mobile management capabilities, IT administrators can now see a holistic overview of all mobile devices that are syncing with Google Apps, and revoke access to individual devices as needed.

Organizations can also now define mobile policies such as password requirements and roaming sync preferences on a granular basis by user group.

Also available today, administrators have the ability to gain insights into mobile productivity within their organizations, complete with trends and analytics.”

Gradual Enhancements

Google gradually has enhanced its MDM functionality for Google Apps. In the summer of 2010, the company announced several basic MDM controls for Google Apps, and today’s announcement adds to those capabilities.

Addressing the bring-your-own device (BYOD) phenomenon and the larger theme of consumerization of IT amid proliferating enterprise mobility, Google appears to be getting into the heterogeneous (not just Android) MDM space as a means of retaining current Google Apps business subscribers and attracting new ones.

Means Rather Than End

At least for now, Google is offering its MDM services at no charge to Google Apps business subscribers. That suggests Google sees MDM as a means of providing support for Google Apps rather than as a lucrative market in its own right. Google isn’t trying to crush standalone MDM vendors. Instead, its goal seems to be to preclude Microsoft, and perhaps even Apple, from making mobile inroads against Google Apps.

Of course, many VC-funded MDM vendors do see a lucrative market in what they do, and they might be concerned about Google’s encroachment on their turf. Officially, they’ll doubtless contend that Google is offering a limited range of MDM functionality exclusively on its Google Apps platform. They might also point out that Google, at least for now, isn’t offering support for RIM BlackBerry devices. On those counts, strictly speaking, they’d be right.

Nonetheless, many Google Apps subscribers might feel that the MDM services Google provides, even without further enhancements, are good enough for their purposes. If that happens, it will cut into the revenue and profitability of standalone MDM vendors.

Not Worrying About RIM

Those vendors will still have an MDM market beyond the Google Apps universe in which to play, but one wonders whether Microsoft, in defense of its expansive Office and Office 365 territory, might follow Google’s lead. Apple, which derives so much of its revenue from its iOS-based devices and comparatively little from Internet advertising or personal-productivity applications, would seem less inclined to embrace heterogeneous mobile-device management.

Finally, there’s the question of RIM. As mentioned above, Google has not indicated MDM support for RIM’s BlackBerry devices, whether of the legacy variety or the forthcoming BBX vintage. Larry Dignan at ZDNet thinks Google has jolted RIM’s MDM aspirations, but I think that’s an incidental rather than desired outcome. The sad fact is, I don’t think Google spends many cycles worrying about RIM.