BlackBerry has entered into a new strategic partnership with Belgian-based Awingu, which makes a unified browser-based workspace solution. The partnership will extend the capabilities of BlackBerry UEM and BlackBerry Access around Windows apps and desktops, particularly in VDI use cases. The relationship will also have a full go-to-market component, with BlackBerry adding Awingu to their sales catalogue for both their channel and their direct arms to sell.
Awingu, which was formed in 2011, is a direct competitor of Citrix, and got a big boost in 2017 when Gartner named them a Cool Vendor in Unified Workspaces. While they have established an office in New York City, and have been increasing their business in the U.S. and Canada, most of their business is still in Europe.
“We have a significantly better TCO case than Citrix,” said Arnaud Marliere, Awingu’s Chief Marketing Officer, who also handles Awingu’s strategic partnerships. “We are simpler, being completely browser-focused, and with no agents. Citrix also has multiple components in the back end, which we don’t do. We don’t touch the back end to keep things as simple as possible, so we are a click of the button to upgrade, while their upgrade requires rebuilding the back-end environment.”
The partnership with BlackBerry provides them with a competitive offering to both Citrix and VMware, who have had the VDI part of the puzzle as well as the Multi-Device Management.
“A lot of the BlackBerry partners were getting tough competition from partners of VMware and Citrix who have both mobile device management and VDI,” Marliere said. “BlackBerry lacked the VDI part of the piece before. That is what we do. So now they have a similar solution, which has both the MDM and VDI components. We are not a security solution, but BlackBerry is, and through the combination we have the best of both worlds. These are highly complementary solutions.”
Deployed behind BlackBerry access, Awingu has a gateway-like architecture, where the reseller or end customer can run it on their cloud of choice. Awingu is also fully multi-tenanted, so partners can place multiple end customers on it.
“From a support perspective, we also make things a lot easier,” Marliere said. “There is a full audit trail, which is important here, given that BlackBerry customers are security-conscious by definition.”
Marliere said that the BlackBerry partnership does not involve a technical integration at the moment, simply the ability to run Awingu inside the BlackBerry Access browser.
“We do have a joint vision of how the solution will evolve, and you will see some interesting things happen there,” he indicated.
Through this partnership with BlackBerry, Awingu joins the BlackBerry Enterprise Partner Program as an Affiliate Partner within the ISV track.
“We talked for a long time with BlackBerry about this,” Marliere said. “They really did an extensive due diligence on our product.”
The partnership includes both joint go-to-market initiatives and streamlined customer support through BlackBerry.
“They are onboarding us as a new solution that’s sold through both direct and indirect channels, so that we effectively become part of the BlackBerry portfolio,” Marliere stated. “First and second line support is provided through BlackBerry as well.”
The companies have already tested the solution with early access customers, and Marliere said the results have been outstanding.
“We have seen good interest from the market,” he said. “Three very large enterprises have deployed it internally. One is a global European-based industrial group, who wanted to get access to desktops on iPads. Another is a global bank, who wanted to give contractors access to unmanaged devices on a BYOD basis. The third is a large health care group that wanted to replace their existing Citrix install base, and wanted their desktops to be available on Chromebooks.”
Awingu only sells through channel partners, and uses Tech Data and Ingram Micro for distribution in North America. Marliere indicated that while Awingu and BlackBerry do have some channel overlap in Europe, that’s not really the case in North America, where Awingu’s channel is comparatively small compared to Europe.
“BlackBerry becomes a very sizable new channel outlet for us,” Marliere said. “It’s whole new ecosystem for us to tap into.”