A number of AirWatch's competitors have been purchased by larger enterprise software companies of late: In November, IBM acquired Fiberlink and Oracle acquired Bitzer. Other independent MDM companies, such as MobileIron and Good Technology, will face increased pressure to partner or be acquired by larger enterprise software companies, noted Jack Gold of IT analyst firm J.Gold Associates, in an advisory email.
"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," Gold wrote.
The Horizon Mobile component extended Horizon's virtual desktops to portable devices such as Android and the Apple iOS devices. AirWatch's product offers richer capabilities in mobile device connectivity though.
"AirWatch has much greater MDM capabilities to manage devices," Gold noted in a follow-up email. For instance, the platform features additional security controls. Last year, with $200 million in outside investment, AirWatch acquired Motorola's Mobility Services Platform last year to boost its portfolio of technologies. In addition, It supports Windows Phone devices, which VMware Horizon does not support.
The AirWatch platform also appears to have a much larger customer base than the Horizon mobile products. A privately owned company based in Atlanta with 1,600 employees, AirWatch has attracted 10,000 enterprise customers worldwide since it was founded in 2003.
The AirWatch platform allows an end user to receive work email, set up a VPN (virtual private network) to access organizational files, and run enterprise applications, all with proper security measures in place. It provides the administrator with the ability to limit what resources a user can access on the corporate network. It can offer reports on which devices are not compliant with security rules, and send alerts to devices. It provides the ability to erase all corporate data should the device get lost or stolen and can track the device's location.
AirWatch's software works with Android, Apple iOS and Macintosh, Microsoft Windows desktop and mobile phone devices, and BlackBerry and Symbian devices.
When the acquisition is completed, AirWatch will operate in as a stand-alone business unit, and its products will continue to be offered under the AirWatch title.
"AirWatch will be our focal point of all our efforts in the mobile space," Poonen said.
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