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MobileIron has seen a sharp rise in sales of its MDM solutions over the past year, said John Donnelly, vice president of sales at the Mountain View, Calif.-based vendor, which sells 100 percent through the channel. MobileIron's SaaS-based Connected Cloud solution, which enables solution providers to manage clients' mobile fleets remotely, is taking off, especially in the small to midsize market.
"On the SMB side, we are seeing a significant uptick in the SaaS model with additional services provided," said Donnelly. "We are making a big bet that the managed services piece is going to take off significantly in 2013." Many end users prefer the SaaS model simply because they are familiar with it, Donnelly said. When Research In Motion's BlackBerry was still the crowned leader in the enterprise smartphone market, many clients grew accustomed to having their phones secured and monitored remotely by solution providers using RIM's BlackBerry Enterprise Server software. Now with the proliferation of Android- and iOS-based devices, they are looking for something to fill that gap.
"[MDM in a managed services model] is not something that is revolutionary in the market; this is the way a lot of larger customers in the BES world from RIM had third parties running their solutions for them," Donnelly said. The increased adoption of managed services models for MDM bodes well for MobileIron partners, he added. It still lets them offer general consulting services for clients in a BYOD environment, but also means they reap the benefits of recurring revenue streams. "There is a revenue split that we work with the partner on that provides a recurring revenue, subscription-based pricing model, long term," he said.
Jay Gordon, vice president of sales at Enterprise Mobile, a Plano, Texas-based mobile solution provider and MobileIron's first partner, said providing MDM solutions in a SaaS-based model is a win-win for both his company and his clients.
"The SaaS-based model certainly is appealing to most customers. They can pay a per-user, per-year fee, and turn it on and off as they need," Gordon said. "And for us, obviously, the ongoing administration does provide a new revenue stream, and also gives our support people greater accessibility and manageability of devices.
"Through the SaaS-based mobile model, Enterprise Mobile can remotely access devices, push out updates to them, and even them wipe them when needed, making its customer support more valuable to end users. Enterprise Mobile decided to include MDM offerings in its larger mobile portfolio as Android and iOS devices started to permeate the enterprise. MDM, he said, is essential in BYOD-enabled environments, where organizations often lack the in-house expertise to manage such a broad range of operating systems and devices. "On the MDM side, there is no alternative except solutions. You aren't going to build it yourself, you can't hire people to do it—you have to buy a tool," Gordon said. "So for us, it creates great relevance where, at a minimum, it gets us in the door because we know customers are interested."