VMware to marry AirWatch EMM with Horizon desktop management

Details are emerging on how VMware will put its $1.54 billion buy of AirWatch to use, marrying EMM with Horizon Suite desktop management products.

VMware's recent AirWatch acquisition gives the company the EMM tools it needs to better integrate mobile and desktop management technologies, industry observers said.

AirWatch's enterprise mobility management (EMM) products, which VMware shelled out $1.54 billion for, will be integrated with VMware's Horizon suite, particularly Desktop as a Service (DaaS) and Mirage, a desktop management tool. The timing of that integration is unclear.

When asked in an interview this week if AirWatch's technology will be integrated with VMware View or Horizon DaaS, AirWatch's CEO John Marshall, appointed senior vice president and general manager of AirWatch following the acquisition, said "absolutely."

He added that VMware's short term focus is around integrating the EMM tools with end user computing products, followed by possible integrations with VMware's network virtualization and hybrid cloud offerings they're building.

"Why should a customer have to go to different platforms if they have laptops versus smartphones?" Marshall said in the interview.

 AirWatch's management software will also be applied to desktops this year, he said.

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"When you can combine our laptop capabilities with what [VMware is] doing on Desktop as a Service, app virtualization, desktop virtualization and the management component, you have some very exciting and compelling offerings there," Marshall said. "There absolutely is a lot of excitement around what we can do together in the coming quarters with the Horizon platform."

One source familiar with VMware's mobile plans said integration work with AirWatch is a key priority.

"It is going to require some serious heavy lifting and [VMware knows] it," the source, who requested anonymity, said. "They’re putting resources behind it… They are really trying hard to be mindful of the fact that this market is uber-competitive and moving fast, and therefore they have to move fast as well."

The combination of AirWatch with VMware’s Horizon Suite represents a shift in focus in the MDM market, said Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst at ZK Research, an IT advisory firm based in Westminster, Mass. In the past, mobility has been a problem that IT had to solve, but now, enterprise mobility customers are becoming more focused on the user experience.

“Mobility is moving from being just an IT-oriented problem to being able to change the entire user experience,” he said.

Mobile management vendors like AirWatch helped solve those IT problems – mainly around security – with technologies such as remote wipe. But integrating AirWatch with the Horizon Suite takes MDM one step further by making mobility “more of an experience rather than just a security problem,” said Kerravala, who has not been briefed about the upcoming news.

“I don’t think VMware got into AirWatch strictly to get into the MDM space,” he said.

The networking capabilities supported by Aruba Networks within the AirWatch technology would be a boon for hosted desktop delivery, said Jeff Wilhelm, chief technology officer of Pawtucket, R.I.-based Envision Technology Advisors.

“This does seem to be a smart move,” he said. “With [Aruba] ClearPass and AirWatch, there is a lot of functionality for resilient spanning of physical networks to offer mobile-aware desktop experiences that can roam across locations.”

Site Editor Alyssa Wood contributed to this report.

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