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He Who Laughs Last (In Enterprise Mobility) Laughs Best

I’m a big history buff.  See, the reason being because I believe that we simply don’t know how to learn from our past…even though the past always seems to repeat itself.  One of my favorite examples is how the Cloud is nothing we haven’t seen with mainframes and dumb terminals some 20-30 years ago.  Here’s another great history lesson.

  1. Some sort of disruptive innovation occurs in IT;
  2. New entrants emerge because they are small and nimble;
  3. They start to gain market and mind share;
  4. Microsoft responds with some half-ass product that gets panned;
  5. Competition continues to innovate and make Microsoft look weak;
  6. Microsoft finishes its management by committee process and tries to make a comeback…to no avail;
  7. Microsoft then finally gets its aircraft carrier pointed in the right direction;
  8. Microsoft delivers an updated version of something, pulls out all the stops….including the rug out from under everyone else;
  9. Microsoft then starts pummeling the competition into submission or into an unrecognizable pulp.

Don’t believe me?  Go ask the good people who worked at Lotus, WordPerfect, Netscape/AOL, and yes….even Apple circa 1995.

I believe we are now – at least from an enterprise mobility perspective – somewhere between Stages 7 and 8.  Today, Microsoft announced the developer preview of Windows 8.  Love it or hate it….it’s going to be everywhere.  It’s going to be on servers, gaming machines, desktops, laptops, netbooks and tablets (and probably some new form factors that merge laptops and tablets) from Dell, HP, Acer, Asus, Lenovo and countless other vendors.

It’s also going to be on smartphones.  (You don’t really think they’re not going to merge the code base of Windows Phone 8 with Windows Phone, do you?)

That means Windows 8, with its slick 8 second cold boot times will be EVERYWHERE.  Companies are going to buy them and consumers will buy them.  Don’t forget, Microsoft still has about 90% marketshare of the PC market.  Even with the consumerization of IT, Windows 8 will find its way deeply into the workplace, because people will buy a PC and just want to use it for work. Oh and by the way….if you like your PC…which you probably do if you keep buying them….then why not just buy the tablet…and maybe even the smartphone.  My, how things can changes once you wake up an angry beast.

So here’s an interesting twist for you.  I’m thinking about enterprise mobility management.  There are a bunch of vendors out there that provide some great tools for managing mobile devices….separate from the PCs and servers because, well….they’re different.  What happens when they are NOT different?

A lot of companies use Microsoft’s System Center or other tools to manage their PCs and servers.  Why not just use ONE tool to manage ALL your Windows machines….servers, desktops, laptops, netbooks, tablets….and smartphones.

Another thing I have said for some time is that we will eventually stop talking about enterprise mobility, because it will be subsumed by general enterprise IT.  I think Microsoft has taken steps that will only accelerate this transition. 2013 – a few months after Windows 8 (or whatever they will end up calling it) will be far more disruptive to enterprise mobility and enterprise IT than people think.

What do YOU think?

16 Comments

  1. Posted September 13, 2011 at 22:31 | Permalink

    Considering Windows 8 is a year away (which is a long time in the mobile world) and the utter failure Windows Phone 7 is at the moment add how few companies use SCCM as an MDM and add the even actually fewer mobile management options MS provides with EAS / SCCM I still see nothing to replace RIM BES as the standard and a plus one for other devices (Good, MobileIron etc).

    Microsoft is at the mercy of having no API’s to leverage (outside of what Apple is providing yet EAS / SCCM doesn’t leverage at the moment). Heck Windows Phone 7 has hardly any hooks for current MDM and still lacks native encryption which is not only a multi-state requirement for data protection but on the short list of every corporation for DLP/security.

    MS needs Exchange 20XX to snap in real MDM components. Provide them without the need for SCCM (which is not cheap) or better yet why don’t they actually improve EAS which from 2003 – 2010 has barely added any of the current mobile management options.

    The way things are going – the devices don’t even matter. Everyone is pushing towards Citrix / VM and using whatever device to access data. Every OS is it’s own siloed platform that provides your functionality, apps, media etc.

    Windows 8 looks nice but considering the bulk of enterprise are still on Windows XP and just now adopting Windows 7 I just don’t see anyone beyond consumers jumping on a new version until 2013 or later. By then who knows what the mobile space will look like with HTC looking to own a OS, Apple’s expansion, Google buying MOTO and RIM’s transition to QNX.

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    • Posted September 14, 2011 at 10:13 | Permalink

      @mobileadmin – Firstly, I 100% agree with you that WP7 has not been a success. That is Stage 6 as described above. The BES unquestionably remains the Gold Standard…except that BlackBerry devices are being replaced by iOS and Android devices. Windows 8 will have all the APIs you need…because they are there in Windows 7. To your point re: Exchange doing more MDM. It already does basic MDM….except for the fact that no other mobile OS leverages all the Exchange policies because they don’t want to rely on Exchange any more than they have to. I’d love to also see how “everyone” is going for a Citrix / VM solution, because I certainly don’t see it.

      You should also check out this opinion from BGR: http://bit.ly/n28qUI

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      • Posted September 14, 2011 at 12:56 | Permalink

        I don’t know thay Blackberry is being replaces moreso the option to allow other devices via BYOT efforts is being more embraced (as a cost reduction / employee satisfaction measure). With our BYOT program we have less then 2% participation and our mobile standard (for now) remains Blackberry.

        Right so with EAS you have the mess of fragmentation and no consistent controls / security. MS would gain a ton of praise from mobility professionals (admins) if they forced EAS to be consistent across every platform that uses the EAS API. It’s ridculous Android and WP7 just now have complex password support and as noted embarassing and a show stopper that encryption isn’t universal.

        Being just at VM World and listening to other webcasts regarding virtual environments the move to a virtual desktop is huge as you only control the data, the device doesn’t matter and the need for device level control / API is removed. The days of certification per device are fading as it’s too much to manage if you want to offer device choice.

        BTW installed Windows 8 last night and the Metro GUI is nice, unsure how they will make a consistent OS across different form factors but it’s promising.

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        • Posted September 14, 2011 at 13:59 | Permalink

          @mobileadmin – It’s a well known fact (unfortunately for RIM) that companies are migrating away from BlackBerry. With regards to MSFT forcing full EAS support, that would be an interesting move on their part, but that could get tricky. Also, VM is certainly big, but being at VM World is analogous IMO to going to any user conference where you’d expect customers to be drinking the kool-aid.

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  2. Posted September 14, 2011 at 13:03 | Permalink

    Well, to take a consumer approach, what I think is…..

    People who love iPhones won’t give them up
    People who love the open aspect of Android will be slow to give them up

    So, the likelyhood of things all being the same? I think low any time soon. The market seems to have accepted that a smartphone, tablet and laptop are three different animals. I don’t sense a market demand for a common OS across the three. It may be lurking out there in the minds of IT professionals, but the decisions will likely be foreced by the people that use the technology.

    I am not worried about the imparative for enterprise mobile management going away any time soon!

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    • Posted September 14, 2011 at 14:03 | Permalink

      @rreifel 100% agree that people who love their iPhones won’t give them up. I’m just thinking about the massive onslaught that will come with a PC life cycle refresh. Like it or not, MSFT has sold 450m copies of Windows 7 and even there, it has finally surpassed the number of WinXP machines in use. I just don’t see how in the next couple of years that MSFT will not continue its domination that will permeate into mobility….because mobility will just be everywhere.

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  3. Posted September 14, 2011 at 17:37 | Permalink

    We can (as many do) debate whether Iphone-ies, or Andriod-ee’s, or Blackberries users will trade / swap out, or, we can be smarter and realize that 150 million subs have yet to make a decision….

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    • Posted September 16, 2011 at 15:27 | Permalink

      150M subs? That number will be SIGNIFICANTLY lower in one year when Windows 8 hits the market. A year in mobile/computing is an eternity.

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  4. Posted September 14, 2011 at 19:01 | Permalink

    Not sure this is an either/or situation. Windows isn’t going away any time soon, and the Phone variant may very well pick-up steam, particularly in organizations – hedging on consumers. iOS devices, Android devices and BlackBerries aren’t going away any time soon. And there is no end in sight for virtualized clients. HTML5 and Windows 8 offer compelling new experiences and development/deployment opportunities. And who knows what else might come down the pike over the coming months or years?!

    There are literally dozens of mobile security and management suppliers today, some on premise, some SaaS/Cloud, some offering both or hybrids thereof. Some offer stronger management, some better at security. Nobody yet has all of the answers, because the questions are still being created in the market.

    But five years from now there will not be dozens. A handful of “winners,” or perhaps survivors, will have solution portfolios that support any client from phone to table to PC to embedded to virtualized – and those that say virtualized clients don’t require security are dreaming. Plus those solutions will offer security variations that CISOs can deploy based on their preference for the organization, for certain users, or for an particular application or content source. We also can’t predict how the threat landscape will morph, though we can guess. But it sure has exploded on the mobile front recently. Already, basic security/management is not enough for organizations and verticals dealing with the most sensitive information and transations. Think MDM alone works for intelligence agencies? For large financial transations?

    So the answer is there is no one answer, but there will be fewer suppliers with answers, and the answers will be more holistic.

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    • Posted September 16, 2011 at 15:15 | Permalink

      “Think MDM alone works for intelligence agencies? For large financial transactions?” <—one of the reasons why I'm on my soap box what feels like 24/7 re: Enterprise Mobility Management

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  5. Posted September 16, 2011 at 15:21 | Permalink

    I agree that MS is formidable in the enterprise and that some enterprises seek to centralize/optimize management around MS SC. If that were an absolute truth, that would bode badly for MDM vendors, but don’t worry, there’s hope. Historically, MS never cracked the code on mobile and RIM – including their positioning of SCCM. And they did try and try and try… only to watch Apple sweep into the enterprise with iPhone (and iPad). Others like VMware are attacking MS in terms of that core management/control dimension.

    History does repeat itself, but you could similarly apply history to show how titans die or deteriorate. DEC and Wang? Based on RIM’s earnings call yesterday, you have to wonder we’re witnessing such a demise (if not based on cratering market share, then on simple cash in the bank… wow). Moreover, Microsoft never fully or effectively made the transition to the desktop Internet. Explorer? Sure. But look at virtually any other MS foray into web, and they did not extend their market domination (and that’s a nice way to phrase it). Luckily, PC’s remained the predominant way to access the Internet, so their base of power wasn’t fundamentally eroded.

    But this is the Mobile Internet (the computing cycle after PC and Desktop Internet). This is an assault on the PC business – directly. Web usage statistics already point a grim picture on Mobile vs. PC usage, and we are seeing market data come out that we’re witnessing PC displacement (and add a touch of Apple’s resurgent market share in that PC category). So no, I don’t think steps 7/8/9 will be as easy or seamless as in other historical examples.

    Beyond that? Windows 8 is awesome. I really, really, really like it. Blown away, in fact. But one YEAR from now? That’s a YEAR for Apple and Android to continue executing their market expansion and market dominance. As we’ve seen in the years since 2007 (iPhone launch), a YEAR is an eternity in Mobile and computing.

    Last point. SC is awesome if the devices can actually be managed by it. Apple? Yea, don’t hold your breath on SC effectively controlling Apple devices – which will be no small part of the device universe IT depts are tasked to manage. Per the above, that will only get worse.

    Again, MS is formidable in the enterprise, but they’re facing systematic attack on all the major lines of their business, including their PC base. With a year until Windows 8, they’re going to have their work cut out for them !

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    • Posted September 16, 2011 at 15:32 | Permalink

      @nturner – “Windows 8 is awesome. I really, really, really like it. Blown away, in fact.” Would you buy one? If your company allowed you to bring your own laptop to work, would you bring in a nice convertible tablet? I’ll argue that MSFT is just BEGGING for BYOD to go to PCs so that it can get back into the tablet game via its desktop dominance.

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  6. Posted September 16, 2011 at 15:40 | Permalink

    Yes, in theory… imagining future Nick in one year and using iOS/Android of TODAY? Sure, I’d try it. Convinced of it? No. The glass-half-full of Windows 8 = wow, it doesn’t suck! Good, MS has a chance. Glass-half-empty? By the time we hold it in hand, it may fall behind alternatives. I’ll be deeper committed to Android/Apple App Stores – including all my media files and accounts. There’ll be even more Apps in the aforementioned App stores, and MS’s inventory will be inferior (less reason for me to risk a move). And how could the latter aspect get worse? Once bitten, twice shy. HP WebOS – “that was a stupid waste of time for my dev team.” Might we see that play out yet again with RIM? Regardless, App developers are going to be more skeptical and slow in producing Apps until they see some “market success”. Just a bit of that is a strategic threat to MS.

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    • Posted September 16, 2011 at 15:46 | Permalink

      It never ceases to amaze me how Apple and Google can do no wrong and Microsoft, et al. can do no right. I have used a Mac for years now, and I still find its UI to be G*d awful as compared to my Windows 7 machine. You click the X on an open window and it doesn’t shut down the app. Back to mobile….you do however make an excellent point re: The Cloud. I would certainly like to hear more about what RIM is doing re: the mobile cloud.

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  7. Posted September 16, 2011 at 16:01 | Permalink

    I don’t think “can do no right/wrong” is an emotional or tech-political thing. Sure, there are fan-boys for all the players, but much of the Google/Apple enthusiasm is based on their success or trajectory. Maybe the odd person calls it right on the reasons ahead of the curve, but performance is the only measure. You correctly cite the Microsoft’s 9-stage model on market success, but that model simply NOT work for them this time around. RIM? I’ll be aggressive here – RIM DID NOT LISTEN TO THE MARKET. It mocked iPhone/iPad adoption, held onto incorrect views of market needs (and for too long) and then the icing on the cake… executed miserably.

    Great piece on RIM’s crazy rantings: http://www.businessinsider.com/rim-ceo-quotes-2011-9

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    • Posted September 16, 2011 at 16:06 | Permalink

      I am by no means a MSFT fan boy, but I simply can not imagine how their deep entrenchment in tech areas will not ultimately provide them the leverage they need to be a dominant force in (enterprise) mobility.

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