Another reason why the Android segment of BYOD is problematic for enterprise IT organizations

2-Color-Design-Hi-Res-100px-widthThe Wall Street Journal published an article on what appears to be a decision made by Google not to support so-called older browsers (Jelly Bean 4.3 and earlier) for Android smartphones. But Android Jelly Bean 4.3 appeared as recently as June, 2013 (less than 2 years ago). So it may be safe to assume enterprise IT organizations are about to experience another big headache as they struggle to support BYOD policies permitting personnel to bring Android smartphones (and I would add tablets) into the enterprise. Some of these devices will certainly appear current (merely half way through a typical 3 year use cycle). But permitting them for use inside corporate firewalls might be a big problem.

This article is written by Danny Yadron. The article was published on Monday, January 12, 2015 and is titled Google Isn’t Fixing Some Old Android Bugs.

It is also likely consumers wouldn’t have a problem with Google’s decision, if the devices in question were truly older, meaning the first Android smartphone which appeared on the market in 2008, and its siblings. If the set of devices was merely limited to smartphones from 2008 to, say, 2010 (a full 5 years back), then Yadron’s reference to what he contends is the same posture Microsoft adopted with regards to its Windows XP Operating System, when it decided to stop supporting the product for production computing, would make sense.

But, in my opinion, Yadron’s statement is not tenable. “The security blind spot illustrates the challenges companies face as they try to move customers onto newer products and focus security resources on patching more-current software. Microsoft . . . applied the same reasoning when it stopped supporting Windows XP, first released in 2001, in April [2014].”

When we make reference to the Windows XP operating system, we are talking about software on the market for almost fourteen years. Sure the structure of the two announcements may be the same, but to equate a decision about products purchased as recently as 18 months ago to a decision about products purchased almost 156 months ago (nearly 10 times older) doesn’t make sense.

There is really very little similarity between the stances of these two big ISVs. Enterprise IT organizations are not likely to be fooled into thinking the two statements are the same. When they face an inevitable decision about whether to prohibit the use of mobile computing devices powered by Android Jelly Bean 4.3, on-premises, or not, they are not likely to enjoy their position as an unfortunate “bad guy”/spoiler for their community of computing users. Nevertheless, the best of them will likely have to prohibit these devices (which some personnel may still be paying off) if they are to preserve the comparative security of their internal corporate networks.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2015 All Rights Reserved


BlackBerry BES wins at U.S. Defense Information Services Agency

On August 6, 2014, Blackberry announced the U.S. Defense Information Services Agency (DISA) had approved its Secure Workspace for iOS(R) and Android(tm) solution at the level of DISA’s Security Technical Implementation Guide (STIG).

In this writer’s opinion this win is notable for three reasons:

  1. The win demonstrates the strength of an entrenched device and its supporting platform for enterprise businesses and comparably sized organizations (such as DISA) in the public and not-for-profit sectors
  2. Despite BlackBerry’s position in the “Niche” quadrant of Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Mobile Device Management (MDM), DISA opted to approve this solution, apparently unconcerned about the position of this platform, relative to its competitors in the market place. DISA’s decision may include important clues about how U.S. Federal agencies may buy technology solutions in the future
  3. The win is, perhaps, a blow to Samsung’s Knox Enterprise Mobility Management. Given the role Google apparently intends Knox to play in its efforts to repackage Android for enterprise consumers, this win for BlackBerry may have implications across a wider range of enterprise opportunities

1) It is very difficult to unseat an entrenched incumbent

The BlackBerry press release about this win does not include specific detail about how DISA decided to approve BlackBerry’s solution, but it is likely safe to surmise the large installed base of BlackBerry 10 mobile phones played some kind of role. On the other hand, the press release does mention BlackBerry’s Global Enterprise Services group. So the win may be emblematic of the quality of customer account management this group has achieved as it has worked with DISA

2) The Magic Quadrant May Not Be What It Seems When It Comes Down to Costs

Enterprise computing is highly complex, with a rich set of influential factors. As mentioned above, without further detail, it is no more than pure conjecture to posit answers to questions as to how DISA went about making its decision to approve BlackBerry’s solution. But it is likely cost had something to do with it, as is often the case. Perhaps the cost of implementing a best-of-breed solution for Mobile Device Management (MDM) far exceeded the cost of consulting with BlackBerry to bring its solution up to compliance with STIG. Bottom line: this win demonstrates how vulnerable an argument built on no more than authority (meaning pointing to the position of a couple of products in a market study like Gartner’s Magic Quadrant) can be when long standing customers weigh the pros and cons of making a platform change and funds are tightly controlled.

3) Samsung’s Knox is, perhaps, not as formidable as its namesake

As written in several older posts to this blog, Google’s I/O event for 2014 included the presentation of what this writer took to be a serious effort to repackage Android into a platform more worthy of serious consideration by enterprise IT organizations. A segment of the enterprise presentation at this event included an announcement of Samsung’s decision to make Knox available to the entire Android developer community. So this win by BlackBerry may put a damper on the enthusiasm driving this enterprise IT initiative for the Android developer community.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2014 All Rights Reserved


Is Blackberry’s Freemium Strategy the Right Approach to Gain Share in the EMM Market?

Last week Gartner hosted a short, free-of-charge webcast on BYOD. The webcast was led by David A. Willis, a Senior Research Analyst at Gartner. The material presented in the webcast was collected from the responses of a sample of enterprise businesses to a series of questions about BYOD. A substantial majority of respondents (more than 85%) indicated a decision to invest in an Enterprise Mobile Management (EMM) solution.

As Mr. Willis noted, enterprise consumers of EMM solutions have a lot of choices. A number of ISVs (including IBM) compete in the market. In fact, Mr. Willis announced Gartner’s plan to publish a Magic Quadrant on this market sometime during the second quarter of 2014, which, one may argue, indicates the promise of the market as well as the intensity of competition for a share within it. Presumably, Blackberry® Enterprise Service 10 (BES10) is a contender in this market.

But does Blackberry’s EZ Pass campaign, which offers enterprise customers a “free pass to secure multi-platform Enterprise Mobility Management” make sense, especially for a company with an announced intention to transition from a revenue model built on hardware sales, to one built around enterprise software? In contrast, the online promotional content on IBM’s MobileFirst Managed Mobility Service neither includes any pricing information, nor a free offer, nor, finally, anything similar to these promotional tactics. The page, on the other hand, is used to present viewers with more traditional choices: white paper downloads, free research on the topics (BYOD and EMM), etc.

Blackberry’s “freemium” approach, in my opinion, would be the right tactic to use if EMM market prospects either have little familiarity with BYOD (and the related management requirements to successfully implement it for an enterprise business), or if EMM market prospects are displaying a lack of interest in Blackberry’s own offer. Based on Gartner’s results, it is safe to say a large section of likely consumers of a solution like BES10 are familiar with the drivers underpinning the EMM market.

So I am left to conclude Blackberry is facing a lot of resistance to BES10 and, therefore, is heavily promoting the BES10 giveaway. I do not consider this strategy a positive indicator of success for Mr. John C. Chen’s plan to transition from hardware sales to enterprise software sales. I expect the intensity of the “freemium” campaign will increase as Gartner gets closer to publishing the Magic Quadrant I mentioned above.

Disclaimer: I’m long Blackberry, with no present position in IBM and no affiliation to Gartner

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2014 All Rights Reserved


Enterprise Business Displays a Strong Appetite for Enterprise Mobile Management Applications

During a webcast titled The Impact of BYOD, which was led by David A. Willis, VP Distinguished Analyst of Gartner®, Gartner published data reflecting the results of a statistically representative survey of enterprise businesses. Eighty seven (87) percent of respondents indicated their intention to invest in a Mobile Device Management (MDM) solution.

Certainly 87% is an important statistic. Mr. Willis identified several drivers for this collective appetite. The center of these being security issues (76% of respondents indicated “Security Issues” as a major impediment to MDM adoption). It is worth pointing to a second major obstacle, “Additional Support Complexity”, which attracted almost a matching number of respondents (73%). As Mr. Willis noted, complexity is an almost unavoidable result of implementing a BYOD policy for an enterprise. With security and complexity as powerful drivers, if Gartner’s data can be assumed to be accurate, a clear majority of enterprise business CIOs are evidently spending some sleepless nights grappling with how best to manage BYOD.

The market, as Mr. Willis also noted, is very contentious. There is no lack of solutions. But, despite the large number of players in the space, there is certainly room for ISVs to profit from the business. Truly useful MDM and EMM solutions are not mere commodities — at least not yet.

Mr. Willis announced Gartner’s plan to publish a Magic Quadrant on the MDM and Enterprise Mobile Management (EMM) sometime during Q2 2014. The ISVs fortunate enough to have a spot in the Quadrant, and, better yet, those in the familiar upper left “Leaders” square, stand to benefit. Mr. Willis mentioned IBM as a contender in this market. I, myself, would add Blackberry to the list.

But will Blackberry Enterprise Server (BES) be included in the Quadrant? Or does Blackberry have another application, one better suited to meet the functional requirements of a true EMM solution (Mr. Willis explained why EMM solutions look more likely to magnetize the interest of enterprise consumers than their MDM counterparts) for Gartner’s review? Unfortunately, there is scant information on this topic.

In my opinion John C. Chen’s plan to transform Blackberry into an ISV providing MDM/EMM solutions, if it is to produce any positive results in the near future, would certainly receive a major boost should Gartner include a Blackberry solution in the Quadrant.

Disclaimer: I’m long Blackberry. I do not have a present position with IBM. I have no affiliation with Gartner®.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2014 All Rights Reserved


Microsoft Presents InTune Mobile Device Management on an Android Device

On March 27, 2014, Microsoft® General Manager Julia White demonstrated Office applications running on her iPad, and InTune, Mobile Device Management running on a Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1. A lot of market commentary was published in advance of this presentation. Much of it had to do with a “new direction”, or a “sober realization” on Microsoft’s part. Microsoft tablets, smart phones, and even XBOX consoles simply weren’t going to magnetize the critical mass of consumers required. The software ports included in the demonstration would represent its capitulation to the BYOD market dominance of iOS and Android competitive devices.

But back on June 3, 2013, in a presentation titled “Enabling People-Centric IT”, Andrew Conway, Director of Product Marketing for Microsoft’s Window Server System Center referred to a 2012 presentation of Microsoft’s App Side Loading Service for iOS. Conway noted the broad surprise the audience expressed, back then, as they watched Microsoft software running on an iOS powered device.

Evidently, Microsoft recognized markets had forgotten these earlier presentations. So White’s demonstrations of Office running on the iPad and InTune Mobile Device Management running on an Android tablet were, in my opinion, added onto Satya Nadella’s presentation of “ubiquitous computing”, and “ambient intelligence” as a method of recapturing earlier surprise.

To further debunk the notion these positions are, in fact, anything really new for Microsoft, anyone reviewing the recording of Conway’s 2013 presentation will note the amount of time he spends on a screen titled “Waves of Innovation”. Apparently the need to direct markets to associate Microsoft with the notion of computing innovation was a prominent objective of marketing communications efforts more than 6 months prior to the public announcement of Satya Nadella as the new CEO for this mature ISV. Once again, anyone watching the personal cameo video introduction of Satya Nadella on the Investors web site will note the emphasis he places on innovation. But keep in mind the theme is not a new one for the company.

Finally, anyone following Microsoft should be familiar with their long standing objective to deliver one uniform computing experience across the complete range of devices and settings experienced by their consumers. This objective powers the Windows, and Windows Phone Operating Systems, and the Surface RT port of Windows 8.0 and, most recently, 8.1. This objective is by no means a new emphasis for the business.

What markets may miss by erroneously categorizing the March 27, 2014 presentations as evidence of a new direction for the business, is an important point of the Office port to iOS. This port is written for the iPad iOS device. The subscription to Office 365 is an optional method of obtaining Office for the iPad. By creating a version of Office compatible with the iPad, Microsoft opened an important opportunity to convert some portion of the enormous iOS app developer realm into customers for the Active Directory services included in this demonstration. In my opinion this latter opportunity is substantial. These developments should be very welcome news for enterprise IT organizations in need of AD support for their iOS devices. iOS App developers targeting an enterprise computing market will likely jump all over it.

Disclaimer: I’m long Microsoft.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2014 All Rights Reserved


Does it Make Sense for Enterprise IT to Serve Their IDE Needs from SaaS in the Cloud?

On February 28, 2014, the CloudShare Community Blog published Chris Riley’s interview with Ken Walker of IBM®. The topic of the discussion was the recent increase in enterprise business interest in serving their needs for Integrated Development Environments (IDEs) from the cloud, and the rationale behind it.

Walker voiced his opinion on the rationale as follows: “The capabilities of SaaS and PaaS platforms and the power of the underlying JavaScript runtimes in every browser are at the tipping point where there’s no point in Developers maintaining private tool chains on their own machines.” (quoted from a February 28, 2014 interview of Ken Walker of IBM by Chris Riley of Cloudshare. A link to the full interview is published above).

Add to Walker’s opinion a recent substantial change in direction for the Microsoft® development model for its Office products, and enterprise business will likely find a lot of reasons to seriously consider cloud SaaS offers, as they grapple with just how best to provision IDEs for organization-specific requirements for custom software.

If these same enterprise IT organizations have already decided to reduce their expense for new desktop software by implementing Desktop as a Service solutions like VMware’s “Desktops in the Cloud” notion, then developers may find lots of reasons to abandon desktop computers with lots of RAM, very fast solid state drives, and numerous Virtual Machines (VMs) for thin clients persistently connected to the Cloud IDEs Walker and Riley discuss in their interview.

Anyone with an interest in following this trend will want to closely review sales reports from leading, publicly traded PC OEMs. Any substantial drop in high end PCs may indicate increased use of Cloud IDEs by enterprise-class businesses.

Just a note on the changes Microsoft introduced with its new 2013 development model: the development emphasis for the Office 2013 components, including SharePoint on premises and in the cloud via Office 365, is squarely on JavaScript (and the Open Source jQuery project) and HTML. I think this change is, potentially, very good news for business customers looking to bolster server defenses against online security threats.

In theory, when processes are written for browsers, the need for trusted solutions dependent on server cycles diminishes. Of course, every custom trusted solution brings its own security risks, which can then become threats to the server, itself.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2014 All Rights Reserved


Who Really Wins When Chromebooks Run Office Through DaaS?

On February 12, 2014, at the VMware’s Partner Exchange meeting, VMware and Google announced a joint marketing effort. Filip Verloy sums up the effort in a sentence: “Yesterday at VMware’s Partner Exchange (PEX), VMware announced that it is joining forces with Google to modernize corporate desktops for the Mobile Cloud Era by providing businesses with secure, cloud access to Windows applications, data and Desktops on Google Chromebooks” (quoted from a blog post authored by Filip Verloy and posted to his filipv.net web site. I’ve provided a link to the complete post at the top of this paragraph).

A lot of analyst commentary has been produced about this announcement as an indicator of Microsoft slipping further out of the commanding position in the enterprise IT desktop computing market.

The argument goes like this: the Chromebook is more of a native BYOD device than, for example, an ultrabook from Dell or HP (I don’t buy this). Enterprise IT organizations, staring at an April, 2014 sunset date for Windows XP, can purchase Chromebooks (which are, admittedly, less expensive than Dell or HP Ultrabooks, but not so cheap when compared with ASUS product) in lieu of substantially more expensive hardware upgrades. A new, virtual, Windows 7 Desktop, and the Office suite, can be consumed through the VMware Horizon DaaS running on the Chromebooks. The end result: Enterprise saves money on the hardware, but do they really save money on the Windows 7 and Office licensing? I’m not so sure.

A related argument notes how the VMware Horizon DaaS & Chromebook solution will open access to otherwise prohibitively expensive Microsoft Office applications for emerging markets. This argument is certainly compelling, but once again, aren’t we talking about sales of more licenses for Office and Windows, for Microsoft, into these emerging markets than would otherwise be the case?

I also wonder why the same solution can’t be achieved with Windows Azure on the backend and Microsoft’s Hyper-V running on barebones ASUS or HP laptops powered by Intel Celeron processors. Conclusion: I think the VMware Google joint effort is a great way to extend the accessibility of the Microsoft Windows O/S and the Office Suite.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2014 All Rights Reserved


Use Virtual Computing Environments, Like CloudShare, to Hasten Application Development for Line of Business (LoB) Units

Satisfying the needs of Line of Business (LoB) units for otherwise non standard computing systems can be problematic for a 2013 central IT organization. IT resources are usually very limited. LoBs often request otherwise non standard systems, which may pose a security threat for on premises computing systems. Few people, if any, within an organization have the time to carefully test systems prior to implementation. But the needs of LoBs are often urgent. Resources are, therefore, required to meet these needs.

A subscription to a multi-tenant, virtual computing environment can be used to satisfy a lot of this kind of requirement. CloudShare is an example of this type of service. An important benefit of this type of subscription is the opportunity it provides to a central IT organization to approve non standard systems development for LoBs, but off site and isolated from any/all production servers, where it belongs.

LoBs often have product responsibility. For businesses marketing technology, these products may amount to the type of non standard systems we are discussing. CloudShare offers an enterprise subscription plan with a lot of features specifically designed to allow a central IT organization to migrate product demonstrations, customer demonstrations, etc, off premises without a requirement for a lot of human interaction. As long as LoBs can find the systems they require within the extensive list of pre-assembled computing components, then environments can be rapidly built without a lot of human intervention.

Of course there is an equally attractive cost benefit implicit to using this type of subscription to handle non standard systems requirements. Any/all hardware infrastructure, operating systems, etc., are provided via the subscription, and not through local procurement. This last feature will be important for Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) testing applications across a variety of operating systems environments. It makes more sense to test compatibility in a temporary environment, like the subscription we’ve discussed in this post.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved


Businesses Looking to Improve DevOps Teamwork Should Implement Elastic Resources Like CloudShare

One unfortunate result of the shift in business computing from PCs to small, smart, mobile devices (SSMDs) is an unproductive relationship between computing operations (the IT department) and Line of Business (LoB) units. Usually it’s the LoBs who develop a burning need for new applications for SSMDs. Operations rarely has the time to satisfy these needs. Even worse, the IT department may have serious concerns about the security of these applications. Limited on premises computing infrastructure, or at least a policy calling for reduction in this hardware, also constrains LoBs, who may have perfectly legitimate reasons for their urgency.

If you can relate with the business computing scenario I’ve just sketched, you should consider a service like CloudShare. A service like CloudShare presents three powerful features businesses needing to make greater use of SSMDs, and the new applications required to communicate with them, require to restore a lot of lost productivity:

  1. Development environments can be rapidly built, and as rapidly torn down, once application development has been successfully completed, with no need whatsoever to add internal infrastructure
  2. Development can be handled off of the internal network, thereby insulating on premises computing systems from potentially risky application development for SSMDs
  3. IT organizations aren’t burdened with systems administration requirements when the systems needed are running in the cloud with CloudShare

It certainly makes a lot of business sense for organizations to empower LoBs to develop their own applications. The effectiveness of these applications is a critical factor impacting on return on investment (ROI). LoBs have a much clearer understanding of what applications need to deliver, so they are best positioned to deliver truly effective applications for their own needs. If policy permits these groups to secure the competencies they require for these applications through a temporary services operation, then the best computing environment for these consulting resources is a service like CloudShare.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved


The Mystery of Just What Constitutes Big Data Continues

Perhaps no other point so vexes me when I read about “Big Data” than the now familiar absence of a clear definition of the term. I just read an article published today, Thursday, September 5, 2013 in the “CIO” blog of the Online Wall Street Journal, Financial Services a ‘Real Leader’ in Leveraging Big Data. Michael Hickens, the author of this short post, makes a point about the new proclivity of financial services firms to adopt “big data”: “Banks and other financial services firms are further along than most other industries in making use of predictive analytics, according to a study reviewed by CIO Journal.”

In fact, this statement appears at the very start of Hickens’ article. But there is no connection made between “predictive analysis” and “big data”, so I’m left wondering about the point at hand, and where the author of this post would like to lead me. I’m also recollecting the late 1990s, when neural networks were, once again, a really strong area of interest of financial services firms. In fact, these businesses actively pursued the design of neural networks in an effort to advance the accuracy and utility of “predictive analysis”.

So what’s new about this time around? Beyond a mention of Hadoop as the data repository of choice, there is no mention whatsoever about the features I’m following on the topic of “big data”, meaning unstructured data, metadata tagging, etc. Are these financial services firms doing new work in these areas? Are they implementing taxonomies as a way of organizing unstructured data? Are they using metadata tagging techniques?

Unfortunately, Hickens short article does not include detail on these points. I would hope authors, going forward, try to be more specific about just what they mean by “big data” so reader like me can derive more benefit from articles on this kind of topic.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved