IBM & The Key Issues in Enterprise Mobile Cloud


Two conversations we had recently, illustrated key issues in enterprise mobile cloud adoption. One was with a senior exec of a leading enterprise IT research firm, who told us that they didn’t see the importance of Mobile Cloud in the enterprise. Their view is that cloud is the right place to do everything and mobile is just another thing that can get done in the cloud.

In vivid contrast was a discussion with two IBM executives with responsibility for the company’s EMM (enterprise mobile management) products. They stated that the accelerating adoption of mobile – something IBM refers to as the Massive Mobile Migration – is actually drawing enterprises into adopting cloud solutions.

We had written, over three years ago, that enterprises at the time believed that they had two separate issues to address, one of which was Cloud and the other was Mobile. We predicted that they would come to recognize the convergence of cloud and mobile, the Mobile Cloud, as mobile devices, apps and use cases wildly proliferated through their organizations. We believe that is the phenomenon IBM is now describing, even though many enterprise IT experts who don’t have equal familiarity with mobile, may not recognize it yet.

IBM – A Leader in EMM

IBM has continued to occupy a leading position in the EMM area (validated by assessments from firms such as Forrester and Gartner.) We had an opportunity to speak with with Wesly Gyure, IBM MaaS360 Portfolio Offering Manager and Jonathan Dale – Portfolio Manager, IBM Maas360.

The MaaS360 product was the key part of the acquisition of Fiberlink by IBM in 2013. After reciting that the integration of Fiberlink into IBM was an “easy fit,” he explains that MaaS360 actually wound up in the Security area of the company’s organization.

Did that change the focus of the EMM operation? Gyure points out that the group is not just a security app provider, but rather what he refers to as a “productivity and efficiency enabler.” He states that the security apps are layered on top of the solutions, an approach that he refers to as “hidden security.”

IBM actually owned Big Fix – acquired in 2010 – before it decided to acquire Fiberlink, one of the original leaders in MDM (mobile device management.) BigFix is also part of the Security segment. (“IBM BigFix helps you find, fix and secure all endpoints on and off the corporate network.”)

The company has since continued to pour investment into the mobile area.

Gyure refers to the added analytics capabilities of IBM’s Security Intelligence engine. He points out that MaaS360 is integrated throughout IBM’s mobile offerings. These include:

  • The MobileFirst reference architecture (MobileFirst embraces a number of mobile-related capabilities and offerings, including apps development)
  • IBM’s app deployment and app hardening for mobile, including their membership in the AppConfig Community (Industry group that is working on setting up a common industry standard for enterprise app configuration and security for the iOS platform
  • Mobile First for iOS (IBM venture with Apple to provide vertically-focused mobile apps.)

Gyure traces the continued augmentation of MaaS360. It begins to include other aspects such as identity and access management, content management and other features. These are all under the EMM umbrella.

Gyure states, “The key is unified endpoint management across the enterprise.”

Mobile Adoption Rates – A Mixed Picture

But what about mobile adoption throughout enterprises? Gyure presents a mixed picture. In North America, Europe and Asia/Pac he finds increased adoption of EMM. However, he points out that this often applies only to groups within an enterprise, rather than throughout the enterprise as a whole.

He estimates that in total there is perhaps 25% adoption, in terms of total coverage, and he admits that he is surprised by this slow pace. He says that this is due in part to the inadequacy of some of the EMM tools. “You need to get the right tools to the right users at the right time,” he explains, adding, “Users have a short attention span if apps and tools are not easy to use.”

To support this, he cites studies showing that 65% of apps are uninstalled after one day of use and that within 30 days, the percentage of remaining users, on average, is down to 10%.

This leads into some of the aspects of a recent announcement by MaaS360. In April, IBM announced a number of new features aimed at enhancing ease of use for individual users – what IBM describes as providing “a user-friendly, native OS experience” – as well as improving productivity.

Gyure explains that things as simple as how a user is accustomed to interacting with Email, Documents and Calendar can be critical to the success of new apps. He says that users feel that “how they use these functions is like a religion.” Therefore, to succeed your platform must allow them to use the same commands, the same gestures, they are used to. Examples of the new features are: ability to switch seamlessly between email, calendar and documents; extensive swipe gestures for navigation; app catalog feature banners.

The Sagging Future of BYOD

How about the future of BYOD. Here he agrees that BYOD is tapering off, if not ending. He says that in some cases BYOD can be appropriate, however, as a general matter, the overhead in managing a wide range of devices throughout a large enterprise is too expensive.

Dale points out that the underlying issue is how to expand mobile to all members of a company. Sometimes the issue is whether this can be based on devices of the company’s choice or rather on use cases that permit choice by the individual users. The answer may vary by situation and vertical.

Growth Outlook

Gyure states that MaaS360 has 10,000 clients. He cites finance, education and retail as primary segments of penetration. They report experiencing good growth in all areas.

We discussed the question of how many apps enterprises really have. He acknowledged that in the pharma industry the same app might be counted multiple times, because of slight variations in a drug. However, he said their other clients had a wide range of apps and had come to the point that they were addressing managing apps rather than devices, or just basic features such as mail and calendar. Data from an IBM customer survey showed that “heavily mobile organizations” were managing an average of 472 apps.

Dale explained that the proliferation of apps was driving home to enterprises how big an issue mobile, meaning EMM, really was. “It makes them realize they need a platform that can scale,” he added. Some clients are already in the second or third version of their mobile management platforms.

Originally this replacement of platforms was driven by the need to accommodate more devices, more users, now it is being driven by the need to manage apps. EMM is therefore a core need.

There is a convergence of buying power between CIOs and LOB (line of business) managers occurring as apps management comes to the fore. There are new use cases being dealt with and new security requirements.

IBM & Apple

Gyure emphasized that MaaS360 is also at the core of MobileFirst for iOS, IBM’s partnership with Apple. The companies had delivered 100 vertically oriented apps to be used on iOS devices as of end of year 2015. The need to manage these apps provided “a noticeable lift in MaaS360 business,” Gyure stated. This occurred among major enterprises in aviation and finance, for example.

Mobile cloud convergence is a big factor in what is happening among enterprises, according to Gyure. Cloud adoption is moving in the direction of favoring SaaS. There are substantial operating budgets available for SaaS, rather than companies’ relying on capex for equipment.

“Mobile,” Gyure explains, “moves fast and it is leading to using the cloud.” They are getting more integration requests as companies move to the cloud and companies are looking for content management as well. Security is a necessary layering on top of all this.

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