Citrix Refocusing on Enterprise Mobility

Mobility and mobility management are key concerns for today’s enterprise, a fact that hasn’t been lost on former server virtualization second-placer Citrix. The vendor is shifting its focus to enterprise mobile management (EMM) and believes its existing product portfolio and integration work will give it a head start in the emerging EMM market, according to VP and GM Sunil Potti. I spoke to Potti at the VMworld conference last week in San Francisco, where Potti told me that “Citrix is pivoting to an enterprise mobility solutions company.”

After several years of double-digit revenue growth, Citrix saw a slowdown in growth in 2014, according to Seeking Alpha. That slowdown certainly wasn’t due to its enterprise mobility offerings, however, with those posting “nearly 100 percent revenue growth” in the first half of this year. Launched in 2013, Citrix’s XenMobile EMM solution has garnered positive press and a leader spot in the EMM market.

EMM vs. MDM, and the implications for BYOD

What separates EMM from the more familiar MDM space is a richer, more comprehensive, and more integrated feature set. Where MDM could be said to focus on device control and restriction—remotely deploying endpoint security software and updates, for example, and validating and adjusting device settings and configurations to comply with corporate policy—EMM takes a more holistic approach to enable secure productivity, while still retaining the core features of MDM.

“MDM will be commoditized,” Potti said. The process looks to be well underway, in fact, with MDM prices per device falling by half since 2010, as Seeking Alpha reported. The emphasis is now on application- and data-level security and enablement, two areas in which XenMobile aims to excel. On the application side, XenMobile offers sandboxed, secure mobile productivity and collaboration apps. On the data side, its ShareFile integration provides a safer file sync and share alternative to consumer-facing options that can cause data security headaches. The integration of these enterprise-grade mobile apps within XenMobile creates what Potti and Citrix refer to as the Mobile Workspace concept.

“At the enterprise end user level, people want that integrated experience without compromise,” Potti said. He added, “As the new wave of consumerization comes in, user experience is king, and user experience must be front and center.” And security must be woven into that experience. “Our head start over the competition is the time we have spent integrating features like cut-and-paste blocking and policy control across applications, data, and mobile devices,” Potti explained.

Comprehensiveness, security, and user experience are especially important in BYOD organizations, where a lack of control over the apps employees use can lead to massive data security catastrophes, as we discussed in our recent look at the dangers of shadow IT. EMM solutions like XenMobile can help security-conscious organizations prevent their employees from endangering sensitive data through improper self-service app provisioning and data sharing.

From point solution to holistic workspace

The talk about Citrix’s refocusing raises the question: What about Citrix’s other current offerings? When asked, Potti said that Citrix’s plans are not to drop existing products but rather to fold them into the overall mobile workspace concept.

“People don’t want to lose XenApp or VDI, but rather to embrace mobile workspaces. We’re moving away from point solutions, which create a lack of simplicity that is an impediment to adoption,” he said. Instead, existing products will become mobile workspace features.

As mobility and BYOD become ever more mission-critical to enterprises both large and small, vendors like Citrix could prove vital to helping organizations bridge the gap between productivity and security. EMM offers an attractive approach to enabling end users without sacrificing compliance, data security, and IT control, even over BYOD devices.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

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