Good Technology CEO: "We focus on the data, not the device"

The latest installment of the IDG Enterprise CEO Interview Series

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We also have simple app wrapping, which was a part of the AppCentral acquisition, and then we have a separate security platform called Good Dynamics [6]. Think of Good Dynamics as accepting the security framework that we use in our own application, our secure browser, SharePoint integration, DFE, and we separate that and make that available as a set of tools. So now you can not just create applications that leverage the secure platform that we use, but you can also expose services between those applications, you can show data between those applications, you can create these complete end-to-end workflows. And we can secure the data through every point of that workflow. 

Take the simple insurance worker use case, the claims agent right at the scene of an accident. I want to take a picture securely. I want to upload it into a form. I want to fill in the rest of the form with my report. I want my customer to digitally sign and say yes, that’s their description of the accident. I want to upload it to corporate, have them approve it and send it directly back down so that user knows right on the spot what’s happening with their accident. On a mobile device that’s not one application, that’s probably five applications. It’s the photo app, the communications, the DocuSign, etc. If each of these are done with Good Dynamics, either written with Good Dynamics or wrapped with AppCentral wrapping, then they can share data between them.  AppCentral is the way a CIO can actually deploy-manage those applications, either by profile, by user, by job role, by device, if they need to.

MR: How is Dynamics adoption going?  Do you have a lot of developers on board ?

Dynamics adoption has been amazing. The company really only started shipping Dynamics in earnest in, I’m going to say, Q3 of last year. So we’re just under a year, and we have a large number of commercial applications, things like Box for Good. You can do integration with IBM Worklight, with Salesforce, with HP ePrint, DocuSign. 

But what most people don’t realize is that for every single commercial application that you see, there are probably 20 to 30 in-house developed applications behind the firewall that our customers have developed for themselves. So the adoption has been fantastic. We’re seeing very quick uptake of the development platform, and mostly it’s driven by the need to do secure workflows, just getting data on and off the devices, and to know if they actually need to be able to do these complete workflows across.

MR: If I’m not mistaken, you take a "containerization [7]" approach to app management so there’s a separation of apps for work and apps for personal life. There’s been some push-back against that approach [8], suggesting that that’s kind of undercutting the whole benefit of BYOD in the first place.  Consumers or workers choosing the apps they want to use for their own workflows and getting those apps done.  How do you deal with that?

We do use a lot of containerization in our solutions. But sometimes that term gets intermixed between containerization of the operating system -- think of it as dual persona, or a single container that all of your work stuff goes into -- or containerization of individual applications. So we do the latter. We sell containerized apps or we give you the ability to containerize your own apps and data and then manage and distribute the data between them. So the benefit to that is that it doesn’t interfere with the user experience at all. You’re not logging into a separate profile or separate work experience.

We do have single sign-on and identity and access management across Good Dynamics and Good Applications, so if you signed in to the first Good Application or any one of our partner’s applications, those credentials would be propagated across all of the Good Apps, but it’s invisible to the user. So it’s not a separate workspace. We’re not carving up the OS. We’re not separating it. It is completely native and intuitive.

JG: What we’ve seen over the years is that companies either in the management space or in the security space usually start off being very good at a specific set of offerings, a specific set of challenges, and then over time they either get acquired or they become an acquirer and dramatically expand the portfolio.  Where do you see Good falling on that spectrum, and what do you ultimately see as the broad portfolio for the company if that’s the direction you’re going in?

I’m going to make the assumption that Good continues on its path to be a broad enterprise solution provider. We all agree there is likely to be a lot of consolidation in enterprise mobility, organic and inorganic. Whenever you have a large and growing market – there are 122 vendors, which is what I think Gartner just quoted in their last Magic Quadrant -- something is going to shake out.

But we’re not new. We’ve been out there for quite a long period of time. Our security model has been tested and proven with large federal agencies, with the world’s largest banks, healthcare providers. About 50% of our customers come from regulated industries. The rest come are large retailers, manufacturing, distribution, I think we’re in an age now where there isn’t a company alive that doesn’t care about their data and their IP.  So what used to be relegated to kind of a niche regulated market solution is now a broad platform that spans across industries and across different enterprises.

We have done a couple of acquisitions. You mentioned AppCentral.  There was another called Copiun [9], which did SharePoint integration and cloud file storage. It is, I think, inevitable that there will be likely more as we go forward. But I think right now our focus is really on completing the integration and making this broad enterprise platform available to a broader number of customers. We’re not in a race to scale the products. Our products have been proven and they’ve been broadly deployed in very, very large organizations, so I think scalability, reliability, extensibility, those are things that the company has had to work out over the years.

I believe that we’re in a world where the value of enterprise mobility is just starting. I think right now there’s so much of the conversation being driven by employee-driven devices. It’s just such a small part of the conversation. We have a large financial institution that is using Good Dynamics to secure the private banking application they’re giving to their top management clients. We have an insurance company that is using Good Dynamics to give secure and policy-controlled access to their insurance brokers. Because the brokers are not employees, they’re partners, I can’t do device-management, I can’t take over, I can’t give you a whole second profile, but I can give you secure and policy-managed applications through Good Dynamics, where to you it just looks like another app you downloaded from the app store.  But there’s somebody behind it who really cares about controlling the access and controlling the data and can set policies to make sure that those assets are protected.

JG: When you look at the competitive set today, what would you say is the single key differentiator in the way you solve these problems for customers?

A: I think the key differentiator is we focus on the data, not the device. There are two other very popular approaches. You have either device manufacturers like BlackBerry or device-management organizations that try to replicate a BlackBerry-type device management experience, but on non-BlackBerry devices. I think you’re drawing the perimeter around the wrong place. Because if you understand that what is required is policy and control at the data level, then anything you do at the device level is great, and it’s a great first step, but it doesn’t solve your data challenge. You need a solution that focuses on the data. 

I think you have other companies that are looking at server-based virtualization.  So folks like Citrix or others, and I think that is closer to being data focused, but it keeps so much of the usability and the user experience off the device, that unfortunately the user experience becomes very challenged. Therefore you get that risk of organ rejection or user experience rejection that I was talking about earlier, where the user will just, instead of VPN’ing in and using virtualization, will just forward their data to their Gmail account and deal with it there.

That is our differentiator and that is also what allows us to get into some of these other use cases like the banking applications or the insurance applications and doing things that are B2B and B2C, not just corporation-to-employee.

JG: In light of the portfolio discussion in the earlier question, what should people expect over the next six months to a year from Good?

They should continue to see us growing out the ecosystem around Good Dynamics.  They should continue to see us bringing the barrier to entry lower for consumers. I think, again, because our solution has been enterprise-grade, there’s a perception that it’s somehow inaccessible to the average enterprise, that you need to be a global bank or a large federal agency in order to use Good, which is just completely not the case. And you should expect to see us break out into some new markets by taking this platform in some interesting new directions, either through vertical markets or into different market segments, layers of productivity.

JG: I wanted to ask about a market you’re currently in with collaboration tools. So we talked about mobile management being a crowded spot. Collaboration is a really crowded spot. Why would a company go with your set of collaboration offerings versus one of the better known competitors out there?

A: With our collaboration suite, we’re really very narrowly focused on those core user productivity applications as kind of an out-of-the-box, get your users up and running on the basic mobility applications they need, which are email, calendar, contacts, browser -- sort of "office-in-a-box." We don’t believe for a second that that represents the user’s entire need for collaboration applications, so we actually work through Good Dynamics with a number of those other vendors to do Good Dynamics versions of their apps. If you are using somebody else’s IM or a collaboration application, or not using Good’s, so long as they are supporting a Good Dynamics protocol, there is nothing that would stop the data from going back and forth. In fact we encourage developers and we reach out to those other collaboration solutions and help them incorporate Good Dynamics technology into their applications. 

Largely it’s customer-driven. If a company, a very large organization, has deployed Good across all of their mobile users, but they’ve deployed one of the other more traditional collaboration suites across other screens and they’re looking to try to do some sort of intersection within mobile, it’s a relatively friendly meeting place, where we consider ourselves to be a platform, and therefore we don’t assume that everybody is going to use all of ours. I don’t think that that’s limited to even just the areas where we don’t have apps. We have an IM client.  We support other IM clients. We have a browser. If the user wanted to use somebody else’s browser we’d support that as well. What we care most about is giving the user that secure workflow and the ability to share data across applications whether they’re ours or anyone else’s.

JG: Are there any big customers that have committed to using your collaboration suite as their standard?

A: Absolutely. Keep in mind, for mobile, our collaboration suite is really an extension of decisions they’ve made in other places. For example, many of our customers, not all, are Exchange customers. So this is Exchange extension. We have some that are Lotus Notes [users]. We have others that are in other buckets. But those are the two bigger ones. I would say yes, almost all of our customers have defined us as a standard. 

MR: When you are thinking about the mobile platform landscape, do you prioritize support or development of new features for some platforms first, and which ones and why?

The answer is yes. I’m going to break that into what platforms do we support, and then how do we try to get equitable feature sets across multiple different platforms? The platforms we support are always a reflection of what our customers are asking us to support. Platform agility is not really a problem for us. And part of that is because we don’t assume that the platform we land on is secure. So we secure within the container. We provide our own encryption, our own security APIs. So that means we have a lot less dependency and a lot less vulnerability as a result of whatever is happening in the underlying OS. 

Right now, we publish a report every quarter [10] on what we’re seeing behind the firewall in terms of activation.  So iOS for a long time has been the leader in terms of activations. I think in terms of growth Android is clearly right now the fastest growing platform, and we’re just now starting to see Windows Mobile, although I’m expecting we’ll see more of it.  But a lot of our customers ask us to support it in an expectation of them wanting to support users on that platform, not in a realization of seeing a lot of those devices come in yet. As we know, the one constant in mobile is change.  So I’m sure that portfolio will continue to change every year.

In terms of feature parity, again it’s generally a reflection of what customers are asking us to do. And the one example would be where of platform prevents us from doing something. So iOS has some very different idiosyncrasies versus Android, and so there are always going to be cases where we have to code around or do something different or unique for one platform or another based on whatever the inherent native attributes are of the platform, just in terms of basic things.  Think of background processing as the most glaring example.

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