IBM To Buy Fiberlink in Bid For EMM Leadership
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Author: Jim Lundy
Issue: Who are the mobile providers and how will they compete?
Summary: IBM’s planned acquisition of Fiberlink signals a major trend of large software vendors making strong plays in the enterprise mobile management market.
Event: On November 13, 2013, IBM announced its intention to buy Fiberlink, whose MaaS360 offering is a cloud-based EMM (enterprise mobile management) solution. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
With this acquisition, IBM rounds out its mobile portfolio and becomes a major supplier of EMM solutions. The acquisition puts IBM in a competitive race for EMM leadership. It may open the floodgates on a second round of mergers and acquisitions, this time by Tech Titans.
Building a Mobile Suite
IBM has not been standing still in mobile; it has steadily built out a mobile portfolio with several acquisitions over the past few years. It attacked mobile development first by acquiring Worklight and UrbanCode (see Note 1). All these acquisitions now form a comprehensive mobile suite that includes EMM, the fastest-growing area of mobile.
Aragon believes it is not enough to just control the device; enterprises need to control and manage devices, apps and content.
IBM Will Force Other Tech Titans to Make a Move
Clearly IBM sees the future of this market and wants to be a one-stop shop for all things mobile. IBM is the first titan to make a major mobile move since Citrix’s purchase of Zenprise last year. We believe other major enterprise software vendors will look at EMM players like AirWatch and MobileIron to make a play in this space. One thing is clear: after IBM’s move, subsequent acquisitions of the remaining standalone players will be much more expensive.
The technology providers we feel need to make a move include BMC Software, Cisco, Computer Associates, Google and Microsoft. Microsoft has Windows Intune for mobile device management, but will potentially look to round out its portfolio. Dell has the KACE appliance for mobile device management, and BMC already has an MDM solution.
Challenges and Opportunities
A big challenge for IBM will be to reconcile all its previous acquisitions in the mobile space and integrate all its assets. One opportunity for IBM will be to leverage MaaS360’s Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) certification, a priority for cloud-based systems.
- Current Fiberlink customers should get guidance from IBM/Fiberlink on their current investments and roadmap.
- Enterprise planners should focus on complete EMM solutions that manage the entire mobile lifecycle, including apps, devices and content.
The EMM space is heating up and going through massive consolidation as major enterprise software vendors look to gain traction and a leadership role. IBM is positioning itself to emerge as an EMM leader with a strong services business.
Note 1: Key IBM Mobile Acquisitions
- Fiberlink for its well-rounded EMM solution with FISMA and SOC 2 certifications
- Worklight in 2012 for its technology platform to build mobile applications
- UrbanCode, also for its app development platform
- Xtify for push notifications
- Emptoris for telecom expense management
- Trusteer for mobile and application security
Related Aragon Research
- Aragon Research Globe for Enterprise Mobile Management Software, 2013
- AirWatch Pushes The Envelope In Enterprise Mobile Management
- Beyond MDM: The What, Why and How of Enterprise Mobile Management
- Seven Trends in Mobile: From Mobile Management to Mobilizing Business
- Content Security: The Next Mobile Management Frontier