Modern Mobility

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July 12, 2017  1:42 PM

Former Citrix CEO defends company against VMware

Colin Steele Colin Steele Profile: Colin Steele
AirWatch, Citrix, Desktop virtualization, Enterprise mobility, VMware

Sanjay Poonen, VMware’s chief operating officer, actively promotes his company on Twitter — sometimes at the expense of competitors.

In the past few weeks, Poonen tweeted a news story about BlackBerry’s declining software revenue, citing it as evidence of VMware’s growth in the enterprise mobility management (EMM) market. And he encouraged attendees of Microsoft’s partner conference to ditch Intune, that company’s EMM product, in favor of VMware’s AirWatch.

So it shouldn’t have been a surprise when Poonen weighed in on Kirill Tatarinov’s sudden departure as Citrix CEO, posting this tweet to his 19,000-plus followers:

What was surprising, however, was the response he received from Mark Templeton, who served as Citrix CEO from 2001 to 2015. Templeton, who tweets just a few times per month and typically takes a more subdued approach, did not hold back in his defense of his former employer. He even compared Poonen to a certain other bombastic Twitter user:

Having four CEOs in less than two years is never a good sign for any company. It would be naïve to expect VMware to ignore the situation at Citrix and not try to take advantage. That said, it’s quite a leap to imply, as Poonen did, that VMware’s push into the end-user computing market caused the turmoil at Citrix.

Yes, Citrix did drop out of the leaders quadrant in this year’s Gartner Magic Quadrant for EMM. But as we reported yesterday, that’s more likely because of Citrix’s confusing Microsoft partnership in that market, not anything that VMware has done. And although VMware has made significant strides in desktop and application virtualization, Citrix still has the lead in these areas.

Furthermore, Citrix has reported successful financial earnings as of late. Profits increased by nearly $217 million last year, and the stock price is more than double what it was two years ago. The problem isn’t that Citrix isn’t turning a profit or making money for investors. The problem appears to be that Citrix isn’t turning as much of a profit or making as much money for investors as the board of directors would like.

That doesn’t mean the future is all rosy for Citrix. Existing customers aren’t all buying in on its cloud-first vision. And pivoting to a security and analytics provider will be a daunting task, as those have never been major focal points for the vendor. VMware’s competitive messaging would be more effective if it focused on these issues.

As for Templeton, his rebuke of Poonen wasn’t the only interesting thing he had to say on Twitter this week. In response to a tweet noting that there have been more Citrix CEOs in two years than Microsoft has had in 42 years, he wrote:

Update: After the publication of this article, Poonen tweeted this reply to Templeton:

June 26, 2017  4:23 PM

BlackBerry software business takes a hit

Colin Steele Colin Steele Profile: Colin Steele
BlackBerry, Enterprise mobility, mobile application management

BlackBerry’s reinvention as a software company isn’t going so well.

The BlackBerry software business shrunk in the first quarter, falling short of analysts’ expectations in the process. Those results came just days after the company announced a slew of enhancements to Enterprise Mobility Suite, the cornerstone of its attempted turnaround.

Those new features will need to move the needle if BlackBerry is to remain a leader in the enterprise mobility management (EMM) market.

BlackBerry software and services sales totaled $101 million for the first quarter — a 4.7% drop compared to the same timeframe last year. And its overall software and services revenue, which also includes its emerging technology unit and licensing deals, was $169 million. That missed Wall Street’s $181 million target, according to Investor’s Business Daily.

BlackBerry seeks to differentiate

The new features coming to BlackBerry Enterprise Mobility Suite include:

  • management of Microsoft Office 365 mobile apps;
  • BlackBerry Access support for Windows 10 and Apple macOS (basically mobile application management for laptops, as Jack Madden noted);
  • some basic app analytics capabilities; and
  • support for wearable devices and applications.

These are all important additions, but none — except perhaps BlackBerry Access for laptops — is a real differentiator. BlackBerry was once again a leader in this year’s Gartner Magic Quadrant for EMM, and the company scored higher than last year in terms of its ability to execute. But its completeness of vision still trailed that of market leader VMware.

MobileIron and IBM are the other leaders in this year’s Gartner report. Citrix dropped out of the leaders quadrant.

CEO remains optimistic

Overall, BlackBerry did manage to turn a $671 million quarterly profit. But as Ars Technica’s Sean Gallagher pointed out, that’s only because Qualcomm paid the company $940 million to settle a dispute over royalties.

BlackBerry CEO John Chen attempted to paint an optimistic picture in a CNBC interview Friday, highlighting plans for growth in the machine learning and smart car markets. He also claimed that the BlackBerry software business is in fact on the rise, blaming the reported loss on how the company had to account for its acquisition of Good Technology.

“A year ago, we had revenue from the Good Technology acquisition that came off the balance sheets,” Chen said. “So if you take that off … the year-over-year growth of our enterprise business was actually 12%.”


May 31, 2017  4:09 PM

AI and machine learning systems: Coming soon to EUC tech near you

Colin Steele Colin Steele Profile: Colin Steele
Artificial intelligence, Citrix, Machine learning

It’s easy to dismiss AI and machine learning as buzzwords with no practical enterprise applications. For many people, those terms still conjure up images of sentient robots that will one day destroy human civilization.

Just last week, over the course of two enterprise IT conferences, I learned that a more realistic view of the future is one in which artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning systems bring tangible benefits to end-user computing (EUC) technologies. In fact, that day is already here.

The big news at Citrix Synergy was the launch of the Citrix Analytics Service, which uses AI and machine learning systems to identify and automatically respond to abnormal user behaviors that could be signs of a security breach. IT pros are hopeful this cutting-edge technology will give them more insight into the security of their applications, networks and data than they are able to glean from their monitoring systems on their own. And Citrix is clearly putting a lot of weight behind this push; the company even had author Malcolm Gladwell give an entire keynote about AI at Synergy.

Citrix Analytics Service is not yet available, but some other vendors are ahead of the AI curve. ExtraHop Networks, for example, won Best of Show in the Best of Citrix Synergy 2017 Awards. Its Addy product monitors network traffic and uses machine learning to identify potential problems before they wreak havoc.

Prior to Synergy, at the ET6 Exchange conference in Chandler, Ariz., AI was also top of mind. The theme of the event was digital transformation — using technology to re-think and improve how companies do business — and several speakers highlighted the role of machine learning systems in this process. Vendors at the event also showcased various ways to put AI to use in the enterprise — including in some surprising ways.

Telecom expense management (TEM), for example, isn’t the most exciting technology in the world, but it’s extremely important for organizations that pay for some or all of their employees’ mobile devices and wireless plans. And in large, multinational companies, it’s extremely complex. TEM vendor vMOX, based in Roslyn Heights, N.Y., ties into cellular carriers’ APIs and uses machine learning to analyze employee usage and identify potential cost-saving measures.

Sure, it is possible that autonomous, intelligent computers will someday take over the world. But in the meantime, organizations need to start thinking about how to take advantage of the numerous benefits of AI and machine learning systems.


May 30, 2017  6:24 PM

Artificial intelligence in the workplace changes roles of employees

Ramin Edmond Profile: Ramin Edmond
Artificial intelligence, Citrix, Data Analytics

ORLANDO, Fla. — Machine learning and data analytics are on the rise, leaving some employees to fear that computers will take over their jobs, but that is not the case.

Machine learning will simply change the role that humans play in the workforce, said Malcolm Gladwell, journalist and best-selling author, in a keynote at Citrix Synergy 2017.

In the past, the job of professionals was to gather data and information as if they were solving a puzzle, but that changes with today’s data analytics and artificial intelligence in the workplace. Employees today aren’t puzzle solvers who go out and gather information, but mystery solvers who must make sense of complex information that machines gather, Gladwell said.

“What we want our experts to do in this modern world [is] … occupy critical points along the decision-making chain that a machine could never touch,” he said.

One example is the role of an NBA general manager who has to predict whether or not a basketball player will perform well and then pay him accordingly.

Machine learning technology has uncovered a pattern showing that NBA players typically have their best seasons at the ages of 24 or 25 years old, but drop off for at least one year around 26 or 27. The reason for the drop-off is typically because players receive their first big contract around this time, and they get complacent, Gladwell said.

But there are exceptions to patterns that machines find, and that’s where the human touch comes in. Gordon Hayward of the Utah Jazz, for instance, was a better player each year following his new deal in 2014.

“How do you find these workers?” Gladwell said. “Does data tell you this? No.”

Finding these workers requires sitting down with people and getting to know them, he said. No amount of automation or staring at an Excel spreadsheet can glean that information. Computers can gather a great amount of data, but it is up to humans to draw conclusions from this data correctly.

“In the future, we are not getting rid of human judgment,” Gladwell said. “We are much more in need of human judgment than ever before.”


May 22, 2017  4:41 PM

Google plays a strong hand with new Android security features

Alyssa Provazza Alyssa Provazza Profile: Alyssa Provazza
Android, Apple, Apple iOS, Google, IOS, Mobile security, Ransomware

Google last week announced Android security features that continue to heighten the company’s enterprise mobility game.

Enterprise security features from the big mobile operating systems, Google Android and Apple iOS, have been a hot topic for years. Now, with BlackBerry down for the count and cyberattacks becoming more advanced, new security capabilities from these OSes are more significant than ever.

Due to fragmentation and issues with malware, experts often saw Google’s OS as sub-par compared to Apple’s when it came to enterprise security. Not so much anymore. Android 7.0 Nougat added support for seamless updates, allowing the OS and apps to be patched in the background — making users less likely to avoid installing important security updates. The company in December even dropped the Android for Work brand name, given that most Android devices now ship with the enterprise security features built in.

All work and all Play

Google took further security steps at its I/O developer conference last week, with Play Protect and new features in the upcoming Android O.

Google Play Protect will be built into devices that have the Google Play store. The service continuously scans all apps on the device for vulnerabilities or other issues, and through machine learning, gathers information over time that allows it to intelligently find threats. Play Protect can also let users know if an app is dangerous and prevent them from downloading it or remove it from their device. The Verify Apps service did this previously, but the new service steps up the machine learning element and makes the scans more visible in the Play Protect app.

“For employees, Google Play Protect […] allows them to work confidently and productively without worrying about harmful apps,” said Travis McCoy, senior product manager at Google, in a blog post. “And using our Android enterprise management features, IT managers can enforce this protection by policy.”

Also in Android O, the code name for the next OS version, is improved IT control over file-based encryption, greater controls over Wi-Fi and Bluetooth restrictions, additional management capabilities around work profiles, and more. In a stand against ransomware, the OS will now close off permissions that previously would allow an attacker to take control of an infected device. Plus, developers can now build the ability for pop-up notifications to time out, or disappear after a certain amount of time on screen, providing more security for sensitive information that may appear.

Android O is now in public beta, so users, developers and IT admins will have plenty of chance to check out those and other new enterprise security features to see how Google is keeping up.


May 16, 2017  4:32 PM

VMware jumps into mobile app analytics with Apteligent buy

Colin Steele Colin Steele Profile: Colin Steele
APM, mobile app development, VMware

Mobile app analytics and monitoring are the new “it” technologies in end-user computing.

Two months after Cisco acquired AppDynamics, VMware has snapped up Apteligent. The deal will bring mobile app user experience (UX) and performance monitoring capabilities to VMware’s existing digital workspace products, senior vice president Sumit Dhawan said in a blog post.

Lack of user buy-in is one of the main reasons that enterprise mobility projects fail. And nothing drives users away from an app faster than a poor UX. Apteligent and other mobile app performance monitoring tools allow IT to view real-time data on crashes, response times and other factors that can affect UX. More importantly, their mobile app analytics capabilities allow developers to quickly pinpoint the causes of problems and address them.

But mobile app UX and performance monitoring isn’t a magic pill. Many organizations have lengthy, deliberate development and release cycles, and they aren’t accustomed to constantly tweaking and tuning their apps.

“It’s the continuous improving of the app that’s the hard part,” said Burley Kawasaki, senior vice president at mobile app development platform vendor Kony, in a 2015 article on in-app analytics.

Inside the VMware-Apteligent acquisition

VMware will integrate Apteligent’s technology into its product line and continue to support existing Apteligent customers with service contracts, a spokesman said. The current Apteligent product will not be available to new customers once the acquisition closes.

San Francisco-based Apteligent was founded as Crittercism in 2011. VMware invested in the company during its $30 million Series C funding round in 2014. The vendors did not disclose the terms of yesterday’s acquisition.

Crittercism originally focused on monitoring and analytics for consumer apps but shifted its focus to enterprise mobility when it changed its name last year, founders Andrew Levy and Robert Kwok wrote in a letter to customers. Apteligent maintains a strong presence in the consumer market, however; its customers include Niantic, developer of Pokémon Go, one of the most popular mobile apps of all time.

Other companies that offer mobile app analytics and monitoring include Appsee, Google’s Crashlytics, New Relic and Riverbed Technology, which acquired Aternity last year.

The Apteligent deal complements VMware’s April acquisition of Wavefront, a startup that monitors application containers and microservices, Dhawan said.


March 31, 2017  7:15 PM

Apple, SAP iOS SDK hits the shelves for enterprise developers

Ramin Edmond Profile: Ramin Edmond
Apple, Apple iOS, mobile app development, SAP, Software development, Swift

Apple and SAP have followed through on their promise to deliver a new iOS SDK that allows developers to build business apps based on SAP back-end technology.

With the new developer toolkit, out this week, developers can create apps using Apple’s Swift programming language and connect them to SAP systems for business workflows and data analytics. SAP already has its own mobile apps, but the knock against them is that they look like desktop applications formatted for a mobile device — not specifically designed for the smaller form factor.

“Apple is in every enterprise right now, except people aren’t using high-end business apps on those phones,” said Eric Klein, director of mobile software at VDC Research Group in Natick, Mass. “But it’s beginning to happen, and SAP will really spur that along.”

The iOS SDK allows SAP shops to customize apps for their use cases. Businesses can build iOS apps for retail workers to more easily collect customer information, for example, or for workers at construction sites and warehouses who want to access product data without stopping to open up a laptop.

As for the vendors, SAP benefits from getting more complex business apps on iOS. Apple, meanwhile, moves the needle on its initiative to move into the enterprise with iPhones, iPads and Swift-made apps.

“Swift is very, very popular with the developer community, and they’re going to want to use it to make these apps,” Klein said.

Apple has focused on increasing its presence in business via other partnerships with IBM and Cisco over the past three years. IBM and Apple have been working on iOS apps that incorporate IBM’s Watson technology, and Cisco has delivered a fast lane on its networks for iOS devices to get better connectivity when accessing business content.


March 16, 2017  1:47 PM

Welcome to Access

Alyssa Provazza Alyssa Provazza Profile: Alyssa Provazza
Enterprise mobility, Microsoft, Windows 10

In 2012, Microsoft bet big on mobile. The company released Windows 8 with apps and a tile-based interface designed for touch devices — all in an attempt to ride the mobility wave that many experts predicted would take over the enterprise.

That complete takeover didn’t happen. Enterprise mobility technologies and strategies are still emerging, growing and changing. Microsoft readjusted two years ago with the release of Windows 10, which gave users an option between the tiles and the more traditional Start menu. It also offered the option to switch between touchscreen and keyboard-and-mouse interfaces and improved upon its enterprise security features and update plans.

Here at Access, we also recognize that business transformation is about more than just mobility. The desktop still plays a key role in most companies; the number of IT pros planning to upgrade to Windows 10 skyrocketed from 13.9% in 2015 to 40.6% in 2016, according to TechTarget’s 2016 IT Priorities Survey. And in their efforts to digitize more processes, organizations have adopted new workspace management tools, productivity applications and more.

With these technologies and more on the horizon, businesses are embracing end-user computing in myriad ways — and this new magazine will be right there with them. You may recognize familiar types of articles from the former Modern Mobility e-zine, such as deep dives into complex technologies, reviews of the latest endpoint devices and long-form features that tackle the industry’s biggest trends. You will also find new sections that rely even further on the voices of IT pros to share their end-user computing opinions, challenges and triumphs.

Like the path many businesses take when tackling EUC issues, it’s been an ever-evolving journey to formulate and execute our vision. As we open a new door to Access, we look forward to bringing you analysis and insights to help your organization better serve its end users.

This post originally appeared in the March 2017 issue of Access Magazine.


March 15, 2017  8:21 PM

NBA mobile apps shoot and score with Built.io MBaaS

Kelly Stewart Profile: Kelly Stewart
Internet of Things, Mobile app, Mobile Application Development, SAP

If you’re trying to build a mobile app, you want mobile backend as a service on your team.

Mobile backend as a service (MBaaS), which connects an app’s front end to the back-end systems it needs to function, can make it quick and efficient to build mobile apps. One option on the MBaaS market is Built.io, a San Francisco-based company that provides mobile app development and back-end integration capabilities.

When the NBA’s Sacramento Kings looked to build their state-of-the-art arena, the organization turned to Built.io to build a mobile app centered around the fans, allowing them to literally connect with the arena. The app lets fans start by finding a parking spot at the arena or getting an Uber there. It also offers ticketless entry, and inside the arena fans can use the app to order food and drinks, navigate to their friends’ seats and see different camera angles of plays.

“A blending of the physical and technological world seems to be really popular right now,” said Matthew Baier, COO of Built.io.

To support those features, the Sacramento Kings + Golden 1 Center app integrates with more than 20 microservices, and the organization continues to add more. MBaaS allows the team to plug new service integrations into upcoming app updates on demand and give fans a chance to test them out. Based on user reception, the Kings can decide whether to keep or replace the new services. So far, they have updated it close to once a month.

Built.io MBaaS can connect apps to anything from niche cloud-based services to SAP or other databases. Most of the modern services that organizations want to connect to their mobile apps have cloud-based APIs that are easy to integrate with an open architecture; the Internet of Things will bring a whole slew of new experiences to mobile apps as well, Baier said.

Built.io is currently working with the Miami Heat and other organizations to create similar apps for their fans. There will be common base features, but the company will customize each app to the team, the fan experience, location and specific vendors of the area, Baier said.


March 2, 2017  1:32 PM

Apple iOS 10.3 beta gets pushy with iCloud two-factor authentication

Ramin Edmond Profile: Ramin Edmond
Apple, Authentication, IOS, Mobile security

Apple strives to make its devices more secure for the enterprise, but its latest effort leaves things completely up to users.

Users of the Apple iOS 10.3 beta are receiving push notifications asking them to turn on two-factor authentication to protect their iCloud and Apple ID accounts.

It’s a little more persistent than typical notifications. When it appears on the lock screen, it doesn’t go away when the user unlocks the device, and they have to manually exit out of the notification to make it disappear. There is also a warning at the top of the Settings app that asks users to turn on iCloud two-factor authentication if they haven’t already done so.

“Two-factor authentication is a growing trend and is something that most users — especially business users — should be enabling these days,” said Jack Gold, principal analyst and founder of J. Gold Associates, a mobile analyst firm in Northborough, Mass. “It’s too easy to lose your identity and passwords.”

Two-factor authentication aims to protect a user’s account even if someone learns their password. After a user punches in their password, they must also enter additional information, such as a code that they receive via text or email.

Businesses might like Apple’s aggressive attempt to get users to enable iCloud two-factor authentication, because it adds another layer of security to devices that may store or access corporate content. A common problem for businesses that don’t use enterprise mobility management is that they can’t prevent the automatic syncing of corporate data to iCloud and other consumer file-sharing services. Two-factor authentication won’t stop this syncing, but it does provide additional protection of any content stored in iCloud.

Users typically don’t like two-factor authentication, however, because it requires them to take more steps to access their apps and data.

“If it’s burdensome, people will try to work around it,” Gold said.

The iCloud two-factor authentication reminders are expected to be part of the general iOS 10.3 release, rumored to be this month. The website 9to5Mac first reported about the push notifications.


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