With Mobile Computing Vendors
Interviews Doug Neal, CEO of Mobile Automation (Interview Conducted in
Note: The answers are in the words of the interviewer and convey the
intent and not necessarily the exact wording of respondent’s
give us a brief overview of Mobile Automation – its history,
product strategy and your progress during the past three years.
To what extent has the current economic climate slowed your
Automation was started in 1999. I was the founder of the company. I
came from Norton where I had felt that systems management needs of
mobile devices were not being looked after.
I had an IT management perspective where we wanted to solve
the problems faced by an IT manager. So we designed a software
system that would be deployed in both an enterprise environment or
as a service by a network data center.
wanted to address the requirements of mobile devices from a small
workgroup to a large enterprise with thousands of mobile devices. We
started with PC laptops but now support a majority of handheld
started with basic management functions – asset management and
software distribution. Now we have five modules in the suite,
including security and have recently concluded an agreement with
Starfish to utilize its TrueSync synchronization software.
have made significant progress during the past two years and now
have over 70 customers with 250,000 seats managed by our software.
Current economic climate has affected our operation but our business
continues to move forward.
us about your MA 2000 product – in terms of its functionality
depth and breadth. Is
it a management tool or an application development tool?
product - Mobile Lifecycle Management platform is essentially a
suite that has five modules:
Mobile Discovery Manager – allows us to discover
configuration characteristics of mobile assets automatically
Mobile Systems Manager – systems monitoring functionality
Mobile Migration Manager – software version upgrades
Mobile Security Manager – allows central site systems
personnel to audit and enforce compliance to security policies.
Mobile Support Manager – provides help desk type of support
MA 2000Mobile Automation's Secure Management Platform is essentially a management platform that supports mobile application lifecycle deployment.
life cycle management as your product platform theme? How do you do
it differently? Can you also elaborate on discovery feature?
product suite theme “lifecycle” signifies functionality from
early stages of mobile deployment to on going systems management.
This suite includes asset discovery, security policy management,
software updates and centralized support services. The discovery
feature allows network support staff to automatically discover
hardware and software configuration settings, device type, memory,
software version level, etc.. Security function can be used to
delete software after specified number of unsuccessful logon
sets Mobile Automation apart in the market – what are your key
are your major competitors?
can say that the following three differentiators set us apart:
of our suite
- thousands of devices
of Use – one customer installed our software for 6000 devices
in three days, without formal training.
you give us an idea of your growth – number of employees, number
of paying customers and number of seats/units your software manages?
of now, we have around 45 employees, 70 customers and 250,000 seats
managed by our software. We have doubled our revenue base every year
for the past three years.
you breaking even? Are you well-funded? Will you be able to survive
if market takes another one year to turn around?
are sufficiently funded and our growth is currently being funded
from our revenue stream. We
have doubled our revenue year after year for the past three years.
is the connection between synchronization and asset management? Why
have most vendors in this space integrated these two functions? Does
synchronization not belong to the database vendor’s functional
is a related functionality that is often required for software
distribution to ensure that client application software in mobile
devices is at the same version level as at the central host site. We
have announced a partnership with Starfish to use its TrueSync
synchronization software within our suite.
IDC research and Gartner state TCO of a mobile device is $2500 per
year, why are we unable to sell millions of seats?
big is this market? Who are the four major players? How many user seats do you claim to have? What is Mobile
Automation’s market share?
has estimated that the mobile systems management market is around
$200 million, growing at a rate of $47% to $750 million in 2006.
face competitors like XcelleNet, Synchrologic, Novadigm and Altiris.
We do not compete directly with IBM’s Tivoli, HP’s Openview or
CA’s Unicentre. Our software generally works well along with these
enterprise management packages in a complimentary fashion. In fact,
a division of HP has standardized on our software. Aether is also
one of our resellers. We do provide more granularity and
functionality in terms of mobile devices as compared to enterprise
systems from IBM, HP and CA.
& mobile computing market has gone though a difficult time. It
has had several false starts. What is your sense of the market
picking up now?
is no doubt difficult at this time. Sales cycle is much longer.
Customers realize that they have to solve the problem sooner or
later. The real challenge for them is when to budget for mobile
projects and systems management. We are seeing increased activity in
the vertical industry sector.
our industry has more startups than established companies. There is
an inherent danger in picking the right startup for a lasting and
reliable relationship. What advice can you give to our subscribers
and your customers while selecting their suppliers of core
vendor viability is an issue in a technology acquisition decision,
the customers should evaluate which solution can give them the best
functionality and quickest return on investment. They can realize
ROI with our software within 2 to 3 months. Even more established
vendors (as an example Peregrine) can run into financial difficulty.
Advisory and Comments: Mobile
Automation’s MA 2000 Lifecycle Management suite appears to be
well-designed mobile management platform. It has comprehensive
functionality covering mobile deployment lifecycle from initial
asset discovery stage through software distribution to ongoing
helpdesk support function in operational phase. Its discovery
function is quite useful to collect accurate configuration
information from remote devices in an automatic fashion. Among the
vendors in this space, Mobile Automation’s package is unique
because it provides security feature also that allows administrators
to monitor compliance to security policies of the enterprise.
Automation has been able to market its suite to over 70 Fortune 2000
customers and double its revenue base every year since 1999. With
250,000 seats managed by its software, it translates into 3000 seats
per customer. This is a creditable achievement.
suggest enterprise IT professionals should evaluate MA’s Lifecycle
Management Suite in the context of their mobile systems management
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