Gartner’s 2016 EMM Magic Quadrant: VMware edging ahead – but it’s not the whole story

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Updated 22 June Yes, it’s that time of year again. While perhaps not as glamorous as awards season, analyst report season is always important for the software and hardware companies at the heart of the enterprise mobility management (EMM) movement. And, all things considered, it’s increasingly looking like a pattern is emerging.

In both the IDC rankings, released earlier this month, and the Gartner Magic Quadrant, VMware AirWatch came out on top. For the latter, the Atlanta firm was furthest along the line in both execution and completeness of vision. The quadrant has 14 vendors overall, with five in the leaders zone – MobileIron and Citrix battling it out for second place with IBM and BlackBerry battling it out for fourth.

Interestingly, the previous year’s analysis featured only 12 vendors, down from 14 in 2014. Not surprisingly, Globo, which found a place as a niche player in both 2014 and 2015, is not included in this year’s rankings following the financial scandal which crippled the firm at the back end of last year, while Good Technology was subsumed into BlackBerry’s offering after the $425 million takeover deal in September. As a result, BlackBerry jumps several places into the winners’ enclosure.

The new entries of Matrix42 and NationSky are of interest given their headquarters, in Germany and China respectively, represent a move away from the US heartland

Cisco is the largest name added to the list, along with software asset management (SAM) provider Snow Software, workspace management firm Matrix42, and SaaS and EMM vendor NationSky. The latter are of particular interest given their headquarters, in Sweden, Germany and China respectively, represent acknowledgement from Gartner of a thriving market away from the traditional US heartland.

While the bigger, more established names have had a foothold of some sort at the top for the past half-decade, there has been an effort to play more nicely together. The AppConfig Community, established earlier this year as an initiative for best practices around enterprise app development, essentially represents an affirmation that the main players’ SDKs are not a competitive differentiator. Aside from that, however, the gloves are most certainly off.

For MobileIron, the importance of being the only pure play EMM vendor left standing is huge. “MobileIron is the only vendor in the Leaders Quadrant that lives, sleeps, and breathes EMM,” Ojas Rege, VP strategy, told Enterprise AppsTech. Referring to the competition in the top right box, he added: “Unlike MobileIron, EMM is not their core business, and they have to continuously prioritise mobile investments against other investments that generate more money for them.

“EMM is 100% of MobileIron’s revenue - that gives us focus and alignment with our customers. The focus and depth of a standalone vendor is a competitive differentiator for CIOs who view mobile as strategic and do not want to be locked into a single vendor stack,” added Rege.

From VMware’s perspective, the combination of the IDC and Gartner verdicts is naturally irresistible. “These two reports show that leading industry analysts believe that the VMware Workspace ONE solution is the tool to deliver on the mobile revolution of enterprise mobility moving from a tactical management product to a strategic enabler of apps and services to every endpoint, and it is the solution provider of choice among customers looking to solve EMM challenges,” Sanjay Poonen, VMware SVP and end user computing general manager told Enterprise AppsTech.

Chest beating aside, Gartner gives several hundred words to each vendor in the report, with a few bullet points for strengths and cautions. For those in the winners’ zone, the strengths are usually wide ranging – innovative, large scale deployment, well established – while the weaknesses are more difficult to pin down, often relying on client evidence.

The analyst house zoned in on MobileIron’s occasionally turbulent year, with a change in CEO providing “short-term uncertainty”, as well as struggling in adjacent markets due to being a standalone vendor. Rege dismisses the leadership charges – “over the last 12 months we have brought in leaders with deep experience growing and scaling technology businesses” – and argues that by picking a platform with flexibility on the OS, device, app and cloud side, the adjacent markets issue is also a non-starter. “For many of our competitors, EMM is a method to lock customers into their broader computing stack,” said Rege. “However, in the new era of modular IT, companies want choice.”

Enterprise mobility is quickly moving from tactical management to a strategic enabler of apps and services to every endpoint, empowering end users to work at the speed of life

The caution for VMware which raises eyebrows is with regard to Dell acquiring EMC, VMware’s parent company. Gartner argues there could be ‘potential concern’ that AirWatch will not get as much attention once every party in the $67 billion deal gets their feet under the table.

A statement from the company read: “The Dell-EMC acquisition is expected to accelerate VMware’s growth across all of its businesses, including VMware AirWatch, through increased opportunities for integration with Dell’s solutions and go-to-market channels. VMware will also benefit from the operational agility that comes from our majority shareholder being privately controlled and from being part of one of the top three transformational IT companies in the world.”

Poonen added: “Enterprise mobility is quickly moving from a tactical management product to a strategic enabler of apps and services to every endpoint, empowering end users to work at the speed of life. We believe Gartner recognises this new way of approaching mobility.”

As ever, it is worth noting that each of the vendors listed in Gartner’s MQ made it for a reason; depending on your company’s specifications, a niche player could be a wiser choice than a leader. One interesting point of speculation could relate to how next year’s report will look. The vendors chosen for the EMM report need to have demonstrated capability across multiple areas, so players who have predominant expertise in mobile app management, such as Apperian, telecoms expense management, such as Tangoe, and mobile backend services, miss out. Given the increasing prominence of such services, could 2017 provide an even clearer look at the landscape?

You can purchase the full report here (registration required).

Note: The original version of this piece incorrectly stated the headquarters of Snow Software. This has since been corrected.

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Peter Meuser
21 Jun 2016, 7:52 a.m.

Yes, it is always not the whole story. For example even Gartner does not talk about MobileIron's two development stream, that are independent from each other. Customers relying on their On Premise solution MobileIron Core have to wait more than half of a year until iOS features like managed VPP for devices will be integrated into the product. These are features customers are crying for and it takes a long time until they are heard. And: This is not new for the company, that "lives, sleeps, and breathes EMM". Not words, but actions count ,,,

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