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VMware-AirWatch integration details, new features revealed

VMware continues to drop details about its integration with AirWatch for end user computing. Among the new items coming is a mobile container that brings together many different technologies from both companies.

As VMware and AirWatch unveil more end-user computing integration details, an intriguing new feature is expected to emerge with significant melding of management technologies.

VMware continues to outline the integration of the $1.54 billion AirWatch acquisition into its end user computing suite, as described in a recent blog post by Kit Colbert, VMware's CTO of end user computing (EUC).

But, during a session on Horizon 6 at last week's BriForum, VMware disclosed details of a new technology expected in the AirWatch integration that was not included in Colbert's blog post.

The VMware AirWatch integration features managed containers for mobile devices, using a combination of VMware Horizon Mirage, some technologies from AirWatch and the Fusion Pro hypervisor, according to Ben Goodman, VMware's EUC evangelist, who presented at the session.

IT administrators will also have the ability to apply controls like poison pill and password protection to mobile devices, according to Goodman.

The combination of VMware-AirWatch's desktop software shows the company has come to grips with the idea that mobile and desktop worlds have collided, according to Eric Klein, senior mobility analyst with VDC Research Group in Natick, Massachusetts.

"This value play that they are trying to articulate to customers with AirWatch is going to be best served by merging some of these service management capabilities," Klein said.

This is part of the synergy that some of us expected would come to fruition when these two companies came together.
Eric Kleinanalyst, VDC Research Group

In an interview this week, Colbert would not offer additional details about the managed mobile container feature. However, VMware and AirWatch are looking at numerous different uses as part of its integration, including offline use, according to Colbert.

"We are talking about unified device management," he said. "You look at [bring your own device] scenarios or contractor scenarios that come in [with] their own physical devices. It doesn’t make sense for IT to provision something else for them if they have these technologies at their disposal. A key part of that is management."

Some of the capabilities in the container feature as described are "traditional IT service management capabilities" apropos for AirWatch to deliver, along with its enterprise mobility management (EMM) platform, according to Klein.

"This is part of the synergy that some of us expected would come to fruition when these two companies came together," Klein said.

VMware, AirWatch fuse desktop and mobile management

Colbert highlighted in his blog specific integration points for both end users and administrators, many of which were first revealed in less detail this past spring. There is no firm timetable yet for the availability of these features.

End users can expect a unified app store and common identity and authentication for all devices, as well as file sync and share from any device with AirWatch's Secure Content Locker and social capabilities created by integrating VMware's Socialcast with Secure Content Locker.

In that last piece, VMware aims to give users the ability to create ad-hoc discussion groups based on a set of files, or see how many times files are being viewed and by which users, according to Colbert.

A unified device policy management for all devices is in the works, where AirWatch's management system will be applied to desktops for things like controlling the use of the camera, USB redirection and automatically configuring email or WiFi settings.

"Those are things you can do today for the mobile device and we want to extend that to the desktop to have that consistency," Colbert said.

VMware is also planning to extend vCloud Automation Center capabilities to take on mobile and desktop workloads, in addition to server workloads. The company hopes to create a common access point for all devices to join corporate networks using uniform policies and enforcement.

Total integration between VMware's mobile and desktop software may not be the best fit for every organization, however.

Needham Bank in Needham, Massachusetts, uses VMware View with AirWatch's rival EMM platform, MobileIron. The bank is a longtime MobileIron customer and doesn't plan to move away because it believes MobileIron is typically first to market for EMM and it knows where MobileIron is focused, according to James Gordon, first vice president of information technology and operations.

"MobileIron has a singular focus, which is mobility," Gordon said.

VMware expects to release more information about integrations soon, including at VMworld later this month.

Also this week, several patents were obtained by VMware around watermarking functionality within the Secure Content Locker. In July, VMware and Box started a partnership that won't impact VMware's commitment to the Secure Content Locker, according to John Marshall, senior vice president and general manager of AirWatch.

"As the space matures, I consider that we will do more collaboration with companies that overlap and compete with us a little bit, but it doesn't have any bearing on the level of investment that we will do on our own products," Marshall said.

Senior news director Bridget Botelho contributed to this report.

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