Why the latest Citrix and Microsoft partnership adds to the enterprise mobile complexity

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Opinion The enterprise mobile industry has come an impressively long way over the past few years. From the rise of bring your own device, to the evolution from mobile device management to a more rounded enterprise mobility management (EMM) space, a huge amount of progress has been made.

But a fork in the road threatens to hamstring a lot of the good work thus far.

The AppConfig Community, an initiative spearheaded by EMM vendors IBM Maas360, JAMF Software, MobileIron, and VMware AirWatch for transparent best practices on enterprise app development, has iterated quickly by pushing out best practices for both iOS and Android within three months of launching. With these EMM vendors pushing aside their competitive differences – well, some of them at least – in the name of more seamless experiences for their end users, it has built upon 2015’s first attempt that was App Configuration for Enterprise (ACE) and represents an important step in diluting the complexity of the market.

Unlike ACE, AppConfig appears to be open to all - this reporter was told when Android support was announced two weeks ago that the community continues to be “open to any and all EMM providers and ISVs.” One potential new recruit is Citrix. TechTarget broke the story initially, with Manoj Raisinghani, VP product marketing explaining at Synergy, the firm’s annual jamboree, that they were ‘evaluating it’ but ‘have not committed.’

Yet this opens up a major can of worms. The primary theme of this year’s Synergy conference was Citrix’s continued liaison with Microsoft. In a press release, the two companies announced the renewal of vows to help businesses ‘embrace digital transformation with cloud and mobility.’ More specifically, the plan includes accelerated support for Windows 10, full support – and versions – of Office 365, and most crucially, integration of Citrix’s XenMobile and NetScaler with Microsoft’s Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS).

This is all well and good, and makes sense for both customer bases – while the undercurrent to that was the traditional baiting between Citrix and VMware – but as this publication has already explored, Microsoft and AppConfig do not appear to make for comfortable bedfellows. For Nick McQuire, VP enterprise at CCS Insight, the issue speaks more broadly to the future of computing. “There’s a real debate as to where security and management for mobility is heading – the strategy that people take to deploy and manage mobile apps are going to be the backbone, the foundation of how they’re going to manage things in the future,” he explains.

“It’s putting the ISV community in a difficult spot, because you’ve got ISVs really wanting standards, and obviously Apple and Google want those controls to be in the operating system, but on the other hand you’ve got Microsoft [who] want those controls to be embedded from an Office point of view,” he adds.

As TechTarget argued, Citrix wants to ensure its partnerships ‘convey a consistent message’. But McQuire notes that even if Microsoft doesn’t play ball, the current situation is better than it was before, with five or six SDKs to wrangle with, and that ultimately, not all businesses can be put into a one size fits all approach.

“On the one hand you’ll get the camp that will gravitate to a stack bundle model because it’s commercially more advantageous and potentially easier – and I would argue it’s the guys who are late coming to mobility that would gravitate to that model, and would consume a management solution tied to an Office 365 deployment,” McQuire explains. “The other camp, more advanced around mobility that have a lot of apps deployed, want to consume third party applications, not just Microsoft; they don’t want lock in, they want modularity, they want best of breed, and they want neutrality.”

For now though, we just have to wait and see. “There’s no real clear path yet as to which market is going to hold the advantage – but these are decisions that companies are being forced to make,” McQuire adds. “We’ve got an attempt at standards on one hand and a proprietary approach from Microsoft combined with partners on the other hand – hence the world we live in.”


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31 May 2016, 2:21 p.m.

Good point, just reminds me of the interview we had two years ago:

Companies can now bet on Microsofts proprietary Office365 based mobile future or on standards. I hope the standards will win.