A mobile switcheroo: Oracle mobile play latest in relabeling trend

Oracle's new mobile strategy centers on products not previously packaged as 'mobile,' and it isn't the first company to try this approach.

Oracle is the latest major technology provider to enter the emerging world of mobility by reinventing products and packaging them as mobile.

When Oracle Corp. purchased enterprise mobility management (EMM) company Bitzer Mobile last fall, analysts praised the buy while commenting that Oracle was late to the mobile game.

Now, Oracle is touting its EMM platform, one they believe customers have long been using without the "mobile" moniker until now. The platform combines existing products with the mobile identity management (MIM) capabilities of Bitzer Mobile.

Oracle is one of several companies figuring out where their mobile strategy exists, according to Eric Klein, senior mobility analyst at VDC Research Inc. in Natick, Mass.

"They have to listen to what their customers are interested in and what they are buying," Klein said. "Mobile is increasingly part of that equation for companies, especially large ones."

When Oracle's vice president of mobile products, Suhas Uliyar, went to Oracle OpenWorld last year, he was surprised at what he heard from customers about mobility.

"A lot of our customers had already deployed mobile on top of Oracle technologies," Uliyar said. "They called it multichannel Oracle. It's just that we didn't package it as mobile."

Oracle's new mobile strategy centers on application development and management, including the Oracle Application Development Framework, Uliyar said, adding that mobile device management (MDM), as currently constituted, is "dead."

He added that Bitzer gives Oracle tools it needed around MIM that, when added with Oracle's mobile application management, "provides a much stronger capability for us to manage BYOD from a context of separating business data from personal data."

Uliyar did not comment on whether Oracle will make further mobile acquisitions.

"When we break mobility into its three parts -- mobile applications, platform and security -- we actually were pretty full in terms of what we needed from the mobile development perspective," Uliyar said.

Moving from the expense of acquisitions in favor of in-house development isn't necessarily a bad strategy as a way to potentially save significant money, Klein said.

"They can use their existing, established products and offer mobile elements to those solutions, but it's going to take research and development work," he said.

Legacy vendors give old products a mobile makeover

Oracle isn't the first company to take products and re-package them as "mobile," given the extensive reachand buzz-worthy popularity of mobility in the enterprise. Here are a few examples:

Windows Intune saw a transformation from an enterprise desktop platform to a mobile management platform in 2012, when Microsoft introduced support for the Apple iOS and Google Android operating systems.

Last month, Windows updated Intune with new capabilities that, when combined with System Center Configuration Manager, provides Microsoft's first serious attempt at a complete EMM platform. In the company blog post introducing the Intune updates, the word desktop was not used once.

Dell Enterprise Mobility Management, which was introduced in late 2013, includes numerous acquisitions from the past several years by tech giant Dell Inc. One of the acquisitions was Kace back in 2010, which at the time specialized in systems management.

As recently as this past June, Dell touted an update to the Kace K1000 Management Appliance for managing licensed software and application migration for enterprise desktops. A few months later, the KACE 1000 GO mobile application was released for endpoint management through an iOS or Android device.

For Dell EMM, strategic intellectual property for Kace will be made available alongside Credant, SonicWALL and Wyse to aid in security, encryption, user self-service and policy management.

Hewlett-Packard hasn't made a lot of headway in the EMM field and even decided to double down on two new lines of PC systems at its HP Discover conference in June 2013.

However, it did say that its updated HP ePrint Enterprise 2.2 platform, which specializes in cloud-based on-the-go printing, would include MDM capabilities from Good Technology. Good is presently one of the largest independent EMM vendors left standing after continued market consolidation.

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