AirWatch decides to go it alone, takes $200 million investment

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MDM provider AirWatch landed a $200 million investment, led by Insight Venture Partners.

The move seems like a decision by AirWatch to go it alone, rather than try to pair up with a legacy enterprise vendor or related mobile product developer.

AirWatch said that it will use the cash to make acquisitions, drive growth globally, and push its online storage product.

In addition to MDM, AirWatch provides other products including app management, email management, mobile security, and the file sharing offering.

It needs that kind of suite of products to survive.

Independent MDM providers are finding it increasingly difficult to go it alone. Zenprise, for instance, was recently acquired by Citrix. Zenprise's former CEO, now head of Citrix's mobile solutions group, said Zenprise felt pressure to add a host of other mobile management capabilities. As a relatively small independent company, Zenprise didn't have the capacity to develop all of those features in house.

AirWatch may have decided that rather than try to be acquired, it would seek a cash infusion to help it further develop its home grown products and possibly buy other smaller companies to fill in some product gaps so that it can offer the full suite that customers are asking for.

In addition to pressure from customers for a broader product set, companies like AirWatch also face new competition now that the traditional enterprise vendors have noticed this market. Dell, IBM, SAP, and Microsoft have all gotten into the mobile device and in some cases mobile app management markets. Those vendors have a foot in the door based on their long term relationships with enterprises.

Still, for an independent provider, it sounds like AirWatch has been growing at a healthy clip. It says it is signing up 500 new customers each month and that it manages some of the biggest mobile deployments for top enterprises.

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