VMware makes huge mobile management play with $1.175 billion acquisition of AirWatch

by David Needle

January 22 2014

How do you manage the growing number of smartphones, tablets and related apps invading the enterprise? It’s an issue a growing number of enterprises are wrestling with and clearly something virtualization kingpin VMware sees as a big opportunity. 

Today VMware announced a $1.175 billion deal to buy AirWatch, a leading provider of mobile security and enterprise mobility management solutions. AirWatch says over 10,000 organizations across 150 countries use its AirWatch Enterprise Mobility Management Platform.

“When we started AirWatch, we set out to help businesses succeed in the mobile explosion that was set to come. Now there are more than 2 billion smart phones and tablets in the world and more than half of those devices touch an enterprise,” said Alan Dabbiere, co-founder and chairman, AirWatch.

“By joining a proven innovator like VMware, we now have an opportunity to bring our leading-edge solutions to an even broader set of customers and partners to help them optimize for the mobile-cloud world.”

The deal means other established mobile management players have a new, even bigger competitor.

“This acquisition is a direct shot across the bow aimed at SAP, IBM, Citrix, Oracle and others that VMWare see as a threat to their mobile cloud and virtualization ambitions,” said analyst Jack Gold of J.Gold & Associates.

“AirWatch brings multiple technologies (some directly competing with VMWare) and many partnerships that VMWare will be able to leverage. However, it will be a challenge for VMWare to integrate the AirWatch technology with its own, as is the case with any technology acquisition into an existing base.”

(Security and mobile app and device management will be among the key topics covered at the TabletStrategy conference coming to New York on May 6, 2014)

More deals to come? 

The deal also is another indication of consolidation among mobile management players. Gold notes that the remaining major independent MDM vendor, MobileIron, has been rumored to be in acquisition talks.

Ovum analyst Richard Abslaom deems the pairing a good fit.

“AirWatch's fast growth and large customer base will have proved highly attractive to VMware, which can now also add an important array of features to its End User Computing unit,” he said.

“Where VMware has specialized in mobile virtualization to manage enterprise mobile estates, AirWatch will give it tried and tested alternative features in mobile device management (MDM), mobile app management (MAM) and mobile content management (MCM).”

David Needle is Editor of TabTimes and based in Silicon Valley
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