Apple Acquisition of AuthenTec Provides Significant Opportunity

Apple’s acquisition of AuthenTec for $8 per share or about $356 million brings a value purchase of fingerprint and security technology. On the surface, the acquisition provides Apple with biometric fingerprint technology to imbed in their mobile devices. While that is significant news, there is more, much more to the story…read on…

First off, $356 million is a bargain for the potential the acquisition could bring. Between the core biometric fingerprint technology and cache of intellectual property (IP), the potential is significant enough. However, there is significantly more potential here.

Value of Mobile Biometric Scanners

Integrated fingerprint scanners in mobile devices are not new. HP was the first to introduce biometric security to a PDA in 2002 with their iPAQ 5450. IBM introduced an integrated fingerprint scanner to a laptop in 2004 with their ThinkPad T42 model. Adding biometric security addresses some of the concerns that come with management of corporate data and near field communications (NFC) for payment processing.

Impact of RIM Blackberry

There most definitely is a relationship between the current state of RIM (makers of Blackberry) and Apple. I wrote a post ‘Learning From The Blackberry Monkey Wrench’ outlining some of my thoughts. There are three core components to the Blackberry service: 1) The hardware devices, 2) The software running on the devices and servers and 3) the RIM operations that manage all Blackberry traffic. This third one is most often missed and one of significant concern. If RIM collapses and the three components go to different companies, what happens to the data center operations that secure and manage the Blackberry system? I’m certain it will create pause for many corporate entities that currently rely on Blackberry solutions.

Apple has the software and hardware solution. However, they do not rise to the level of security Blackberry affords. The acquisition of AuthenTec technology could provide just the boost they need.

Creation of Security Ecosystem

It is unclear as to the entire portfolio of IP AuthenTec brings. One thing is for certain, the potential for upstream and downstream security integration is strong. And with that integration, Apple has the potential to bring a solution to market similar to Blackberry that addresses the data security concerns coming from BYOD and CoIT.

Bottom Line: Considering the acquisition potential beyond the obvious, $356m seems like a steal. Of course, Apple still needs to execute to prove the true value.

Further Reading:


Will SaaS Provide the Final VDI Knockout?

Over the past couple of years, a battle has been brewing. The battle is not about technology or devices. It is about data and usability. The contenders are Software as a Service (SaaS) and Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI). There are proponents for both camps. And while they are not a direct replacement for each other, they do overlap in many ways. For many, the core value proposition for VDI comes from a specific application or data set. While VDI could be used for other activities, their value simply doesn’t reach the tipping point.

Challenges for VDI

While VDI has been around for many years, it has struggled to make significant inroads into today’s IT environment. In the interim, other solutions have filled the gap. The leading challenges to VDI are the value vs. the cost to implement and operate (as compared to the alternatives). In addition, as we move to a more mobile workforce, the underlying technology that connects clients and servers becomes more challenging for mobile devices.

The Impact of BYOD

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) presents somewhat of a curveball for VDI. On one hand, BYOD increases the demand for VDI by moving applications and data off personally owned devices. Seems simple enough to implement VDI as a response to address the app/ data challenges with BYOD. However VDI brings a new set of challenges in a BYOD scenario that only adds to the already existing BYOD complexities. In the end, the offset is not as rosy as the surface would indicate. BYOD also creates demand that can be serviced by other means. Meaning, VDI is not the only option here.

Leapfrog to SaaS

Over the past few years, SaaS applications have matured significantly. That is in part due to the marketplace. It is also due to the maturity changes within the IT organization. There are three types of demand that could warrant bypassing VDI and going straight to SaaS. The first is off-the-shelf applications. Movement from an internally hosted software package to a SaaS offered version is one way to make the move. The second is greenfield applications. At this stage, IT organizations building new applications should be evaluating cloud-based architectures. The third are the legacy applications. Some of these will continue to require client-server based architectures. However, at the appropriate time, a change will be needed for legacy apps. It is important to understand where that tipping point is. If SaaS is an option, it presents an opportunity to leapfrog over the incremental improvements and should be considered.

Healthcare: A Case for SaaS vs. VDI

Specialized use cases demand further scrutiny over the requirements and potential solutions. Healthcare is a great example where HIPAA’s requirements around Protected Health Information (PHI) are a key consideration. Many healthcare providers are finding new ways to engage patients while working within compliance requirements. VDI seems like a good fit, right? Wrong. Yes, it could work. But the reality is that usability becomes a strong factor in consideration. Add in the movement to mobile users and SaaS (or mobile apps) start to look more appealing.

Bottom Line: As SaaS becomes commonplace for applications, the existing demand for VDI will further diminish. Unless there is a compelling use-case today, investing in VDI is probably a poor choice.


Learning From The BlackBerry Monkey Wrench

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and Consumerization of IT (CoIT) have brought pause and complications to the traditional IT support model. Some have argued that BYOD is more expensive and not a good option for corporations. I disagree under the premise that the arguments are based on strictly the IT perspective and traditional support methodologies. There is obviously much more to it…but this post isn’t about arguing the BYOD perspective.

While organizations wrestle with what to do, the industry stalwart has tripped, stumbled and appears to be falling quickly.

RIM Falls From Grace

RIM, the makers of the industry-standard BlackBerry, has seen their stock price lose almost 90% of its value in less than 18 months. That is in addition to leadership changes, delay of their next major operating system and significant job cuts. To put that in perspective, the Dow Jones and Nasdaq markets have made minor gains during the same period.


Impact for Enterprise IT

IT organizations and the companies they serve have standardized on the BlackBerry platform for years. Even today, many corporate enterprises still leverage the BlackBerry platform. The downturn for RIM creates a significant challenge for IT organizations and managed service providers (MSP); regardless if they have adopted a mobile strategy or not. Even if the organization has a mobile strategy in place, replacing mobile devices is not a trivial task. Just ask anyone who has needed to coordinate, rollout and support a successful mobile device upgrade. Upgrading to new devices within the same product family (ie: BlackBerry to BlackBerry) presents enough of a challenge. The complications grow exponentially when moving to a new platform (ie: BlackBerry to iOS or Android).

Mobile Strategy Changes

There are solutions to the problem and they require quick action. Some are short-term fixes while others are long-term solutions. First and foremost, if a mobile strategy does not exist…create one! It needs to include the BYOD policy. Ensure that it not only includes consideration for the devices, but more importantly the data and applications. Past methodologies focused on securing devices as the means to securing corporate data. With the move into BYOD and CoIT, securing devices is a futile effort in the long term. Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions exist to manage the variety of devices a corporate IT organization may encounter. In the long term, relying solely on MDM solutions needs to evolve to managing the applications and underlying data.

Take Action Now

It should go without saying, but corporate entities should not be taking a wait-and-see approach with supporting BlackBerry devices. It takes too long to move to a new platform and this approach could leave users in limbo. Unlike other devices/ solutions, the RIM/ BlackBerry solution relies on RIM’s data centers and servers in operation for the system to work. Unfortunately, the likely outcome for RIM is to sell off the intellectual property assets to a third party. This could mean that the three core components (Software, Devices and Operations) could end up with three different companies…and it is unknown what their motives will be.

Bottom Line: Develop a mobile device strategy immediately and engage backup planning. Don’t wait to see what happens with RIM/ BlackBerry first.

Further Reading:

Gaining Entry to the Enterprise via the Consumer Trojan Horse

The Difference Between CoIT and BYOD: And the Impact for IT

What the CIO Needs to Know About BYOD


Sneak Peek of the Under The Radar Conference

The Under The Radar (UTR) Conference ( is tomorrow, April 26, 2012. UTR is the intersection of hot up-and-coming startups, investors and judging. If the reception tonight was any indication, the conference and presentations should be very interesting. Here’s a sneak peak of my take of the hot areas and companies to watch:

Application Development Solutions

A few companies are presenting their solutions in the mobile and security space. In the era of cloud computing, these are two hot buttons that enterprises and service providers alike need to be keenly aware of. The move of the information worker from a stationary device to a mobile device is in process. CoIT and BYOD are both serious factors to the movement. Likewise, using traditional security paradigms in the new model run into serious complications. Tools are needed to help organizations make this move while managing and securing environments.

Companies: BitzerMobile, Cabana, Duo Security, Fabric Engine, Framehawk, StackMob

Platforms and Infrastructure

Building applications on top of infrastructure is nothing new. In the cloud era, the architecture…and options open up quite a bit. The cloud market is starting to mature and value is moving from core infrastructure to platforms and on to applications. Leveraging hosted platforms does require a different paradigm to succeed. In addition, when considering apps at scale, automation and orchestration become even more important. This is a very broad area with quite a bit of specialization. Moving forward, integration in the space will be the key to success…along with some consolidation.

Companies: Appfog, AppHarbor, CloudBees, CloudScaling, Drawn to Scale, ionGrid,, MemSQL, MongoLab, Nodejitsu, NuoDB, Piston Cloud, Puppet Labs, Sauce Labs, ScaleArc, Zadara Storage

Monitoring and Analytics

One of the most interesting areas is how data is used and analyzed. And then taking action based on the information gleaned from the data. Players in this space range from aggregating data to understanding and analyzing it. Value increases as the data is moved into analytics and ultimately business actions taken based on the intelligence. While there is quite a bit of specialization in this area at different levels (application monitoring/ performance management to analytics and intelligence), added value will come when these can be tied together to drive business decisions.

Companies:, Cloudability, Cloudyn, Datadog, DataSift, Infochimps, Metamarkets, Nodeable, Sumo Logic, Tracelytics

Interesting Areas to Watch

In today’s marketplace, there are the future-state solutions and concepts. And then there are the real-world solutions that solve today’s problems. Both states need to be understood and the ball needs to be moved forward…and fast! The increased amplitude of mobile devices along with cloud computing bring applications at scale into the forefront. Orchestration and automation becoming hallmarks to success to up-level the conversation and value IT brings to organizations. Ultimately, the play will be with data and analytics. But today, there are more fundamental issues on the table.

Of course, that’s just a cursory review of the upcoming presentations from the UTR conference. Look for more details in the UTR Twitter stream (#UTRconf) and posts after the conference.


Gaining Entry to the Enterprise via the Consumer Trojan Horse

Ok, so you’re selling technology products, solutions or services. You’re looking for the largest buyers and typically look to the enterprise market. You develop the strategy and start going to work. You setup a sales team, check. You setup a channel and partner program, check. Then you start leveraging the relationships, check. But how do you cover the consumer angle? Huh? Yes. Using consumers as a sort of ‘Trojan Horse’ into the enterprise space.

In just the past few years, we’ve seen an uptick in the impact of Consumerization of IT (CoIT) in the enterprise space. The movement shifts the power pendulum away from IT and toward users. BYOD is also making an impact on the movement too. For more info on BYOD vs. CoIT:

In the case of Apple, they’ve attempted entry into the enterprise market a few times. Each time, they’ve been unsuccessful in creating a beachhead and establishing momentum. In the past two years, their attempt to enter the enterprise has largely succeeded. According to Apple’s latest quarterly earnings call, “94% of the Fortune 500 and 75% of the global 500 are testing or deploying iPads”. Others are also in the testing phase (see link below). And that doesn’t take into account the number of devices already in play via the consumer angle. So, is Apple changing their strategy to enter the enterprise environment? Regardless of the specific answer, they are progressing. The move gives Apple an interesting beachhead into the enterprise space…whether they intended to or not.

Interestingly, if consumers are used to using a given technology, they’re more supportive of using it in their professional life too. And that is a good thing for IT organizations from an adoption standpoint. The question is how providers can help enable this process. Apple is a good use-case of a different approach.

The point is: If you’re a provider looking to make a beachhead, there are options to sell into enterprises beyond the traditional approaches. Consumers is one way…but doesn’t fit every company’s solution. If your solution does fit, it might be an interesting model to consider. And this doesn’t cover the other targets open to most providers. But more on that later…

Additional Links:

CIO Magazine – Is Apple changing Its Enterprise Tune?


My Top 5 Most Used Business Apps for iPad

As a frequent flyer that booked over 150,000 actual flown miles last year, I like to travel light. In that vein, I prefer to travel with only an iPad and no laptop. Sure, I do have a MacBook Air that I could bring. These days, I find that flying with the iPad solo fits the bill.

As a diehard iPad user, I’m often asked about the applications I use and why. That brings me to this list. There are many different applications that I (and others) have used and find useful. However, I find that I come back to these applications more than others. As a bonus, I’ve added a few honorable mentions to the end.

Top 5 Most Used Business Apps

1. Pages/ Keynote: Pages is Apple’s version of a word processing application. It lacks more complex features like reviewing found in Microsoft’s Word. But it is great to for taking notes and creating documents. And you’re able to export to PDF and Word formats. Keynote is Apple’s version of a presentation application. I do find creating presentations in Keynote cumbersome. So, I create the presentations in PowerPoint on my laptop then transfer them into Keynote. Using the iPad video adapter, I am able to present right off the iPad. One tip: make sure to test your presentations after conversation to Keynote. Some of the more complex features don’t translate cleanly. But with trial and error, I have found what works and doesn’t work.

2. iThoughtsHD: A stellar mindmapping tool which is a great way to collect thoughts, move them around and organize them. Using the iPad Video Adapter, your mindmap is displayed on a projector which is a great way to collaborate with others. And there are plenty of ways to export your mindmap…or just email it to folks.

3. Penultimate: The toolset would not be complete without a freehand drawing tool. It is a great tool for drawing charts and pictures of your thoughts. While you can use your finger to draw, I find a stylus more functional and precise. And again, like iThoughtsHD, you can display to an external projector using the iPad Video Adapter. In addition, you can export or email diagrams around too.

4. Box: I’ve used iDisk, DropBox, Box and iCloud. iCloud is great for sharing between Apple applications and devices. However, I found that Box provided better usability between platforms and applications. In addition, Box gives you the ability to select “favorites” of files or folders to access offline. That’s great for use on an airplane. In addition, a increasing number of apps support the WebDAV standard allowing files to be saved directly to Box. Conversely, files can be opened by specific applications instead of simply using the Box file viewer.

5. Kayak: This is a new entry to my list. I used to be a TripIt Pro user. However, I have found that Kayak now provides updates to trip (flight changes, gate changes, etc)…but without the subscription feel that TripIt Pro requires. Don’t get me wrong. TripIt Pro is a great application. The only reason I dropped them for Kayak was the fee. And I was already using Kayak for other purposes too.

Honorable Mentions:

1. Twitter: Call me a purist, but I fancy the classic application. There are others that work well too.

2. Skype: Calls from overseas can be pricey. So, I tend to rely more on Skype. I also use Skype if I’m in a location with spotty cell coverage…but good Wi-Fi. Convention centers and hotels come to mind.

3. United Airlines: The new(er) United app is really an app for iPhone. Aside from the graphics, it works well on the iPad for looking up details about your trip and alternative flights.

4. WordPress: It’s a decent way to make posts to your blog, change pages and check stats.

5. LinkedIn: Similar to the United app, this one is designed for the iPhone too. But I still find it more useful than pulling up a browser to search, make connections and send notes.

Necessary Hardware:

1. Apple VGA Adapter: This is one of the most used cables in the bag. It connects between the iPad’s 30-pin connector and a VGA port. Sure, there is an HDMI version. But I have yet to find a place that has a projector or display with HDMI over VGA.

2. Apple Wireless Keyboard: Over time, I’ve become very proficient with the iPad’s on-screen keyboard. But there are times when the external Bluetooth keyboard is called for. And it’s a very light addition to the bag.

3. Incase Origami Workstation: This is a great case for the Apple Bluetooth keyboard. Before getting it, I kept having trouble with the keyboard constantly turning on when I threw it in my bag. Then it would drain the batteries in the keyboard and the iPad. The Origami case provides enough protection for the power button on the side. In addition, it serves as a great stand for your iPad making it into a pseudo laptop.

4. iPad 10w Power Adapter: The power adapter that comes with the iPad is great. But you never know when you will need a bit more extension to the cable. Or run into a plug that won’t fit the iPad’s power brick. That’s where this cable comes in handy. And it works for your iPhone too.


I hope you find this list useful. Enjoy!