Today, AirWatch signed a definitive agreement to be acquired by VMware, Inc., the global leader in virtualization and cloud infrastructure, for $1.54 billion dollars. This is fantastic news for key venture investors Accel Partners and Insight Venture Partners as everyone following knows that it was only last February that AirWatch received $200 million in Series A funding. I think I would enjoy attending their VC party scheduled for TBD.
So, how does this play out for everyone else?
This Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) shakeup is a clear shot over the bow by VMware to other titans with a view of the future for global consumers and business users alike, such as Amazon, Google, HP, IBM, and Intel. All of these players are chasing a vision of next generation computing and “AnyDevice,” AKA a device that powers up and ‘connects’ to its world in context to itself. In other words: a device that understands what it sees, what/who will allow a path forward to other like devices, interconnectivity, and, of course, the Internet and global enterprises.
The AirWatch team will continue to report to CEO John Marshall as part of VMware’s End User Computing business. AirWatch Co-founder and Chairman Alan Dabbiere will be overseeing a new AirWatch Operating Board, which will report to Pat Gelsinger, VMware CEO.
Other pure play competitors such as MobileIron and Good Technology woke up to see their world shaken up once again after Citrix acquired Xen and released XenMobile in February 2013. I have no doubt that they are creating their own action plans, talking to people in the know and preparing their own response to today’s “movers and shakers” news.
Oddly enough, I see this news as good for Blackberry CEO John Chen. Whenever there is market disruption, you get a chance to regroup, plan and attack while the market discourse has everyone distracted. VMware has over 500,000 customers and AirWatch over 10,000, but Blackberry is still formidable with over 80,000 customers. The difference is long-term customers all focused on mobile. Need proof? See Alistair Barr from USA Today who said “BlackBerry, the troubled smartphone maker, is focusing more on mobile device management and security and increasingly compete [sic] with AirWatch. BlackBerry shares jumped 7.8% to $10.70 on Wednesday.” WTF is he talking about? Long before the likes of AirWatch and MobileIron, that’s exactly what BlackBerry was doing. Albeit, before John’s arrival they were doing it poorly. Really USA Today? BlackBerry is focusing on security because of AirWatch? Anyway I digress…
AirWatch joining forces with VMware puts a legitimate stake in the ground for the mobile-cloud world. As both a former CIO and CTO of several publicly held companies I like that I can leverage the EMC portfolio of companies to accomplish the mission of employee AnyDevice.
See the picture below, compliments of VMware:
For too long we have been talking about BYOD for mobile, but my former enterprise peers see it as a “what device and who owns it” world. The tag team of AirWatch and VMware will enable some core elements of:
- Enterprise grade solutions
- Rapid access to mobile apps and data
- Robust mobile security and management
A full story and vision pitch can be found on YouTube:
CEO of VMware, Pat Gelsinger, said in a statement: “With this acquisition VMware will add a foundational element to our end-user computing portfolio that will enable our customers to turbo-charge their mobile workforce without compromising security.”
From my perspective: VMware’s vision for enterprise users has been a VM workspace for all devices. I spent the morning calling CIOs that I know in the federal space and they said the problem was that VMware’s Horizon Suite “kinda sucked.” I suspect this is why they brought in Sanjay Poonen from SAP. To unsuck it.
However, the marriage of AirWatch and VMware puts Horizon in a totally new light (yes, a pun). It enables a direct line from behind-the-firewall to the cloud to mobile solutions. As I read in their announcement “AirWatch will be VMware’s mobile play and will eventually integrate other pieces of VMware’s EUC division as they fit into an overall mobile strategy.”
Finally, AirWatch threw in some speculation in having some capability around telecom expense management (TEM) as a feature set. This is a natural extension and will help CFOs globally who want tight fiscal management around mobile devices, especially the BYOD trend. For members of the TEM industry who belong to TEMIA I would be watching carefully.