Juniper Networks launched its Junos Pulse mobile security business in 2010, but its future was thrown into doubt in February as soon as new CEO Shaygan Kheradpir rolled out his plan to grow the tech vendor's bottom line, a strategy that included slashing costs, shedding some products, and focusing on networks and the cloud.
Kheradpir's plan fell in line with recommendations forwarded in January by activist investor Elliott Management, which felt Juniper had solid products but was underperforming and needed to return more money to its shareholders. Speculation quickly arose that the Junos Pulse business was on the market, and in July, it was announced that the unit was being bought by private equity firm Siris Capital for $250 million.
The uncertainty that comes with rumors of sales and being bought can be unnerving for employees of any business. However, Siris will run the operation—now known as Pulse Secure—as an independent company, enabling it to move quickly in a highly competitive mobile management market that includes such competitors as Cisco Systems, Citrix Systems and F5 Network, according to Pulse Secure CEO Andrew Monshaw, who also is an executive partner at Siris.
As part of a larger company like Juniper, business units like Junos Pulse are managed within the larger context of the policies and constraints of a vendor that has a broad array of products to offer in disparate industry segments, Monshaw told eWEEK. As an independent company, Pulse Secure can "be nimble and move quickly," he said.
To prove the point, Monshaw noted that immediately after launching as a new company Oct. 2, Pulse Secure announced it was buying enterprise mobile management startup MobileSpaces. That combined with the money Siris is investing in Pulse Secure—for example, the plan is to grow the company's R&D budget by 30 percent—about 300 employees and the business it is bringing over from Juniper puts Pulse in a good position to grow.
"We're starting with 20,000 customers," he said. "That's pretty good for a startup."
Siris also is looking to invest in Pulse Secure in other areas, including hiring about another 100 employees and putting money into sales, Monshaw said.
Pulse Secure brings with it such security technologies as SSL VPN and network access control (NAC), while 3-year-old MobileSpaces' bring-your-own-device (BYOD) technology aims to secure corporate data on employee-owned devices, including smartphones and tablets. By downloading the MobileSpaces app, employees can create a virtual partition separating the corporate data from the personal information and a BYOD workspace for enterprise apps on devices running Apple's iOS or Google's Android mobile operating systems, MobileSpaces co-founder and CEO David Goldschlag told eWEEK.
Through the workspace, the corporate data is encrypted and data sharing between enterprise apps is controlled, and it's connected directly to the business's VPN.
MobileSpaces' 20 employees will join Pulse Secure. Over the next year to 18 months, Pulse Secure will work to bring the technologies of both companies together, including creating a single management platform through which customers will be able to manage all the products, Goldschlag said.
The acquisition of MobileSpaces will give Pulse Secure a complete product portfolio in the mobile security space, Monshaw said. The company can offer VPN and NAC technologies for the data center while securing multiple end devices—including smartphones, tablets and laptops—running iOS or Android. Cisco and Citrix have products that compete in such areas as VPN and NAC, and companies like MobileIron and AirWatch are strong in the enterprise mobile management space, he said.
"The issue is, each of the pieces [from Pulse Secure and MobileSpaces] has a competitor," Monshaw said. "But what we've done is bring the pieces together. No one else is doing that."
However, Pulse Secure is venturing into a crowded enterprise mobile management space. It's a market that is in transition as customer demand continues to move from device management to application security and data protection, according to IDC analysts. In a report issued Oct. 2, IDC listed IBM, Citrix, SAP, MobileIron, AirWatch and Good Technology as leaders in the space, with BlackBerry LanDesk, SOTI, Symantec and Trend Micro as other players.
All are in a market that includes a broad array of technologies for such tasks as endpoint and policy management, network security, and data protection and management, according to IDC analysts.
"To meet the changing demands of the end user, vendors are continually adjusting and expanding their product suites," said Stacy Crook, research director for IDC's Mobile Enterprise Research business. "Because the mobile maturity of most customers remains relatively low, this is the perfect time for vendors to become aggressive and take advantage of the opportunity to unseat even some of the more established competitors."