SOTI sees huge opportunity in Android for Work integration

The Mississauga ON-based MDM vendor is already the leader in the commercial Android space, and expects that Android for Work will make Android mainstream in the enterprise, which is excellent news for them and their channel partners.

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The SOTI MobiControl dashboard

Mississauga-based SOTI has announced the general availability of its SOTI MobiControl 12.1 software, which provides immediate support for the just announced Android for Work. The new version also provides support for Samsung KNOX, and a streamlined deployment of iOS devices.

SOTI started out in 1995 as a consultancy, and several years later moved into remote management with a presentation tool that allowed remote control of mobile devices and seeing the image on a larger screen. It had a consumer focus and became a best seller in app stores. SOTI’s move into the enterprise came from research to have the same control for multiple devices at the same time. Thus, they were in the MDM market from the very beginning when it emerged around 2004, and were focused on Microsoft, which then dominated the mobility space, and on managing LOB application usage. When Android emerged, however, SOTI placed a lot of emphasis on it.

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Shash Anand, SOTI’s VP of Strategic Alliances

“We focused heavily on Android when it came out and were the first ones to have management for Android,” said Shash Anand, SOTI’s VP of Strategic Alliances. “Initially, we co-developed on the management with a lot of the vendors, which gave us some exclusivity when Android first came out. Google was focused on the consumer side then, and this all led to a huge success for us. We are the Android leader today, which is the result of a lot of time and investment.”

SOTI has grown very rapidly. Anand said their bread and butter was the SMB market, with some customers having as few as 10 devices. On the other hand, they have 14,000 enterprise customers, some with between 200,000 and 300,000 devices under management. SOTI is also available in 14 different languages.

Android for Work opens up the possibility of even more significant growth, because it has the potential to make Android much more prevalent in the enterprise than it has been.

“Android was not heavily adopted in the enterprise before, and it will be now, with Android for Work,” Anand said. “Android for Work is also important to us because with it, our software and solutions will now work on any android device that comes into the market. We develop it once, and it will work on all mobile devices, which means we don’t have to do as much development to cater to every manufacturer. Google has also been very proactive with us, and as the Android leader, that will help us.”

Partnering with the manufacturers remains critical to SOTI’s success.

“We get the deepest level of management of mobile devices through partnering with manufacturing, and we have been partnering with all the mobile manufacturers – 75 different Android manufacturers – to get them to enterprise-ready,” Anand said. “They are introducing us to their partner network, selling their hardware with our software.”

SOTI’s own channel has more than doubled since last year, when a new channel program, the SOTI Altitude Partner Program, was put in place.

“The restructuring of the program was really a formalizing of it,” Anand said. “Nothing was wrong, but we didn’t have a formal structure in place.” They now have revenue-based tiers, consistent policies, and a full partner portal.

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Roula Vrsic, SOTI’s vice president of marketing.

“We had 700 partners a year ago, and now we have over 1400, even though we have been very selective with the new partners we have added,” said Roula Vrsic, SOTI’s vice president of marketing. “We have been looking for ones who will make a commitment, not one deal.”

Vrsic also said that SOTI has benefited significantly from the acquisition of competitors, and subsequent defection of top partners to them.

“For example, when AirWatch was acquired by VMware, and became part of that larger ecosystem, all VMware partners were allowed to sell it, so the AirWatch partners lost differentiation, had many more competitors, and saw their margins fall,” Vrsic said. “We have also been seeing a lot of partner growth from the security space.”

MobiControl 12.1 also provides integration with Samsung KNOX 2.4 and support for the new Samsung Galaxy S6. Samsung KNOX is typically used in highly-regulated industries for added security. MobiControl 12.1 also introduces support for Apple’s Device Enrollment Program, which lets IT admins streamline deployment of iOS devices for institutions purchasing and deploying iOS at scale, through simplified pre-configuration.