MobileIron’s Ojas Rege – The Future of EMM (Enterprise Mobile Management)


About a year ago, there was considerable discussion in the industry press about a “battle” between mobile device management (MDM) and mobile applications management (MAM). We stated in our study “The Future of Mobile Cloud Apps” that the two areas were complementary and that we expected them to converge.

In 2012 Symantec acquired both an MDM company (Odyssey Software) and a MAM provider (Nukona.) Good Technology, which provides MDM services, acquired MAM provider App Central. In 2013 Citrix acquired Zenprise. More recently the consolidation trend continued as IBM (which offers its IBM Mobile First program and Application Management Services) acquired Fiberlink, a longstanding MDM leader with their MAA360 product.

With the MDM and MAM areas experiencing a great deal of activity and ferment, we were very interested to speak with Ojas Rege, Vice President of Strategy at MobileIron, a leading enterprise mobile management platform company that has addressed both the MDM and MAM areas.

MobileIron is a company that has gained a leading status focusing on the mobile security and management issues of large and medium sized enterprises. So Rege’s insights on advice he’d give to device makers and others in the mobile cloud ecosystem is particularly interesting and insightful.

He tells them, “Don’t slow down. This is a consumer market.” He views the mobile area as being led by developments in the consumer space that have now become of growing importance to the enterprise world.

As experts on the enterprise, he also advises device and OS providers to take the enterprise “seriously.”; He states, “don’t think of the enterprise as a consumer experience, it is its own experience.” By this he is indicating that they need to think about enterprise mobile as not just an area where there are restrictions that don’t exist for the pure consumer space. Rather they should think about how to create a “great enterprise experience.”

He has a metric that he calls: “time to first use.” He points out that an app is of no value until a user can actually use it. So the ease of putting mobile apps into use and administering them is critical. He rates mobile providers to the enterprise on how easy they make it for everyone from administrators to business units to individual users to actually use their mobile apps, services and devices.

He points to refinements such as iOS7’s filtered app inventory, which allows a company like MobileIron to just focus on apps that are under the control of its enterprise customer, preserving privacy of individual’s apps.

He defines the area that MobileIron is focused on as mobile security and mobile management for companies. Rege makes a number of key observations about the status of mobile in the enterprise.

He points that until about 2008, mobile for the enterprise was associated with a specific function or application, which was email. Starting with the explosion of smart devices after the advent of the iPhone, corporate IT departments became worried about security and the prospect of losing control over valuable corporate data.

He sees a major change in attitudes under way for about the past 12 months, in which many companies have advanced from viewing mobile as a way to do to email, to viewing mobile as a “platform” under which core business processes can be conducted and managed.

He finds that the more aggressive, or progressive, companies are starting to address the enablement of these core processes via mobile. “Mobile is an enabler”. He finds that today many companies are interested in enabling mobile apps for their users. What is a stickier proposition is that of changing “the mindset of how IT thinks about security.”

He states that “mobile is the catalyst for change in the role of IT.” Mobile decentralizes apps development and management. While IT was accustomed to serving corporate departments and individual users, now the app developer community has become a new party in the equation. They are motivated to do an end run around IT to speed up their development process. IT must provide them better APIs and an apps enablement environment.

Mobile, Rege, observes, “exposes every technical and business weakness in a company.” Key among these is the existence of multiple silos, that all require governance, regarding policies for access and usage of information, databases, programs and the like. He maintains that mobile platforms, like his company’s, can simplify the process and strengthen management and business performance.

MobileIron has historically focused on enterprises. It defines mid-sized as 500-5000 seats or devices and large as 5000+. With its new cloud service, Anyware, announced in 2013, it has also added smaller SMBs to its customer base. The company confirms that the NSA scandal has slowed down the cloud decision-making and implementation process for many international enterprises.

While consolidation is likely to continue throughout the enterprise mobility space, Rege finds it highly unlikely that a company like MobileIron would consider merging with a mobile applications development (MADP) provider. He distinguishes between aspects of enterprise mobility that “cycle quickly,” such as apps and more long-term aspects, which comprise mobile management platforms.

He sees a great deal of diversity in the apps area and finds it unlikely that there will ever be a single universal OS or a single way to build apps. He divides enterprise mobility into three major categories: 1) Creation, 2) Security, 3) Management. He expects Mobile Iron to continue to be agnostic to the first element and to focus on items 2) and 3). They wish to be able to integrate with all apps.

MobileIron works closely with numerous apps developers. Rege identifies about 100-200 apps that are key business apps, widely accepted, and gives examples in the areas of content collaboration (e.g., Dropbox and Box) and content management (e.g., Evernote). MobileIron offers its AppConnect program or feature. The company states that AppConnect “containerizes apps to protect data-at-rest without touching personal data.” In addition, the company also works with contractors and in-house\ apps developers who are building custom apps, offering the same containerization security features.

Rege identifies eight aspects to apps security and containerization. These include: 1) authentication of users; 2) authorization, identifying who has approved the user and app; 3) configuration, understanding the device type, OS, etc., 4) encryption; 5) DLP, data loss prevention; 6) analytics, for device management; 7) deletion; 8) tunneling, when data is in motion.

MobileIron has pointed out that while there may be a billion or so smartphones sold in the coming three years, only some of them will wind up in businesses that have formal IT departments. The company has released its Anyware product, which is integrated with Salesforce, specifically to allow smaller companies or groups the ability to set up mobile management without the need for IT department support. The system can be set up, for example, by someone in a sales department to manage and secure the use of mobile phones by the department or group employees.

Regarding verticalization opportunities, Rege observes that his company’s five major verticals – finance, healthcare, pharma, retail and manufacturing – only comprise about 60% of their business, indicating a high level of business diverseness. He firmly believes that “every vertical is going mobile.” However, some verticals are currently moving more intensively and deeply to embrace mobile solutions. He singles out retail, which is driven in part by the mobile POS (point of sale) activity and pharma which he finds is moving ahead with a good deal of field CRM (customer relationship management.) While the financial services area was a leader in mobile email, it has been slower in developing other apps.

The company has received a number of patents. In January 2013 it received a patent on the enterprise app store. It also holds patents on mobile activity intelligence (collecting information to set policy) and mobile certificate management.

MobileIron’s customers currently implement the company’s solutions through on-premise systems about 70% of the time and through a cloud-based system about 30% of the time. All of the company’s sales are through channel partners, such as carriers.