MobileIron jumps into IoT market, not a moment too soon

Mobile device management vendor MobileIron announced today that it would form a dedicated IoT division and hire Intel and GE veteran Santhosh Nair to run it, in a move that analysts have been quick to praise.

Mobile device management vendor MobileIron announced today that it would form a dedicated IoT division and hire Intel and GE veteran Santhosh Nair to run it, in a move that analysts have been quick to praise.

MobileIron’s statement said that the company plans to have a saleable IoT product on the market sometime this year, and that the IoT offering will be designed with security in mind.

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“It’s a smart move by MobileIron,” said IDC enterprise mobility program director Phil Hochmuth. “It will boost their presence in the emerging enterprise IoT market from a product development, sales and go to market standpoint.”

MobileIron’s core MDM competency fits in well with IoT – managing endpoints isn’t that different from managing IoT devices, so it should be a relatively smooth addition for the company.

According to Forrester Vice President and Research Director Christopher Voce, it’s unsurprising that MobileIron has chosen to move in this direction, since plenty of companies have been approaching IoT of late, and a lot of that has to do with the relative immaturity of the market.

“Effective [IoT] management solutions lag behind, leaving companies to string together their own solutions,” he told Network World. “Thus you have a lot of different categories of providers jumping into the space.”

But for the MDM and EMM sectors, it’s a fairly common transition, with companies like Citrix and VMware already working to shape their mobility offerings into convincing IoT management tools. That said, it’s not a simple change, either.

Chris Marsh, research director at 451 Research, said that the technological and market-based differences between MDM and IoT are substantial.

“It isn’t an inherently natural evolution,” he said. “MDM tends to be IT-driven, user-centric and general purpose, whereas IoT management is driven more by operations teams, is more device-centric and vertically specific.”

According to IDC Vice President for network infrastructure Rohit Mehra, the dominance of cloud and IoT in enterprise IT mindshare is creating a major market for products that can help companies manage the coming wave of new apps and devices.

“It seems natural that MDM vendors will endeavor to capture this market shift and treat it as an incremental growth area to traditional mobility management,” he said.

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