EMM consolidation, part II: Good buys BoxTone

It may not echo with the thunder of 1.5 billion dollars like January’s VMware/AirWatch deal, but yesterday’s announcement that Good Technology would be acquiring BoxTone says a lot about where the EMM industry is headed. The terms of the deal weren’t announced (though you can bet that AirWatch helped bump the numbers a bit), but this was an excellent move by Good, and it signals a long-overdue winnowing of the EMM field.
What it means
Once upon a time, all you needed to sell an EMM solution was a little bit of fear – fear of change (from an integrated BlackBerry stack), fear of the compliance bogeyman, or fear of Edward Snowden. It all boiled down to mobile devices being pesky little leakers of corporate data, and any vendor who could put those devices back in the box could make a sale.
These days, security is more critical than ever, but the security story is getting a bit long in the tooth. It’s just not enough anymore. Enterprise mobility is real, and it’s here. If your system is insecure, you have a problem, but it’s not your only problem. You have to make your mobile users productive, and you have to do so without going broke or crazy. Enter vendors like BoxTone and Tangoe that focus on device and cost management.
Buying BoxTone now was a smart move for Good. BoxTone has a solid product in a hot space, and if Good hadn’t pulled the trigger, HP or Box would have. BoxTone fills in some much-needed gaps, extending access to BlackBerry, providing a path to the help desk, and adding some new channel relationships (particularly DoCoMo and KDDI in Japan). The deal gives BoxTone a fully-competitive solution to sell, access to Good’s much larger customer base, and a team of developers that know security as well as or better than anyone in the business. Plus, the company has already done the integration work through a previous joint venture with Good.
Still, one has to wonder what was left on the table. BoxTone has stated before (and I tend to agree) that the money and future in EMM is on the management side, so its decision to go all-in with Good is a bit surprising. This merger has a whiff of acquisitions to come. Don’t be surprised if HP or another systems management vendor scoops up the whole package if things go smoothly.
Whom it affects
EMM vendors
For established EMM independents like MobileIron or SOTI, the news isn’t horrible. It means a stronger competitive offering from Good, but it also continues to validate consolidation in the space, which could prompt other potential acquirers to move soon or sweeten existing offers. For Citrix, AirWatch, SAP, and IBM, it’s just a sign that Good is here to stay.  The real losers in this space are the second tier EMM vendors who never really got past Mobile Device Management. Like the AirWatch deal, this acquisition shows that you need more than MDM to win this fight, and businesses that can’t provide a complete management solution will likely fade away without the paydays coming to their better-known competitors.
Enterprise IT
Overall, the impact on IT should be fairly minimal. For existing Good customers, the merger should provide some tightly-integrated and competively-bundled management products. For BoxTone-only customers, Good’s MDM and security products are far more substantial than BoxTone’s, and should prove a solid upgrade path. Existing BoxTone customers that have integrated other MDM vendors shouldn’t see any disruptions, though they should expect some much more spirited sales calls in the future.