Hewlett-Packard is going in the opposite direction from most of the players in the mobile device management (MDM) space, planning to launch a platform to sell directly into the enterprise market rather than indirectly via carriers.
In December, the company bought a player in the MDM space, namely Bitfone, acquiring as a result both server technology (called Fusion DM) and the mProve software client products (in FOTA and DM versions).
Gene Wang, formerly CEO of Bitfone and now VP of marketing at the Handheld Business Unit within HP’s Personal Systems Group, said he disagreed with the conclusion of other MDM competitors such as mFormation and InnoPath that enterprise MDM is something most corporate customers want delivered to them as a value added service by carriers.
Enterprises manage desktops, laptops and servers, and HP is very much aware that enterprises need a DIY version of MDM, as was Bitfone, but with just 150 people, we had to pursue carrier and handset manufacturer relationships to get to market, he argued.
Of course, now that it is part of HP’s $30bn a year PSG, the R&D budget and marketing muscle have grown considerably, so an enterprise version of the technology can be expected, even though HP also expects to see MDM grow as a service provider offering too, as well as potentially as something from network-independent managed service provider too.
There will be more details when HP makes it first big announcement in MDM next month, specifically on May 9 at the HP Mobility Summit in Shanghai. What is clear already is that the offering will be heterogeneous, because, as Wang put it, enterprises won’t only be using iPAQs, so we’ll need to support all the other guys.
Equally, there will be concern to make keep both the server and client sides of offering standards-based so that they can both work with other vendors’ products. The Fusion DM server already works with clients from Red Bend, for instance, and Wang envisaged his mProve clients working with servers from the competitors on that side of the business.
With its presence in the enterprise market, it is only logical that HP should want to offer a DIY MDM offering to its customers in that segment. If it is successful, expect to see other heavyweights in the systems management space snapping up start-ups in this market to add to their portfolio.
IBM appears to have killed off its WEDM product in this category and is rumored to have been sniffing round Bitfone when HP came along, a story Wang declined to comment on. InnoPath and mFormation could certainly become attraction acquisition targets over the next year or two.