VMware looks to AirWatch to simplify management and centralize client storage

The goal is to integrate desktops and mobile devices for users and IT administrators

VMware is leaning on AirWatch to let users access files from one place using virtual and physical clients and let admins manage desktops in the same way they handle mobile devices.

When VMware announced the US$1.54 billion AirWatch acquisition in January, it was the company's biggest purchase ever, and the company is now ready to start telling users and partners how it plans to integrate AirWatch's products.

The underlying vision is to let users access data and apps on any device, and let the IT department manage and secure all these apps, data, and devices, according to Kit Colbert, CTO for End-User Computing at VMware.

The integration of VMware's desktop products and AirWatch's mobile offerings to realize this vision will happen in phases, with "some easy wins first and the disruptive innovations following," Colbert said in a blog post on Wednesday.

VMware's Horizon Workspace provides a good start for letting users get access to their apps and data regardless of the device they currently use. Today, the platform can be used to access desktop and hosted apps, and VMware could easily integrate mobile apps, according to Colbert.

Users also want one place to go to access all their files, and AirWatch's SCL (Secure Content Locker) will become that central point. It already lets users access corporate data from sources such as Sharepoint as well as OneDrive and Google Drive on iOS, Android and Windows devices.

VMware is expanding the list of SCL compatible clients to include its own Horizon desktops, by integrating technology from its own Horizon Files product, Colbert said. Doing that will allow users to access content from virtual desktops, laptops, smartphones and tablets.

SCL will also be integrated with VMware's enterprise social network Socialcast, which can be accessed via the Web or mobile apps. Today, Socialcast users can attach files to conversations and SCL users can comment on files. Connecting the two, will allow users and managers to have a much better understanding about relationships between people and data, according to Colbert.

VMware also wants to adopt the way AirWatch manages mobile apps. Managing mobile apps is much more straightforward than managing desktop apps, according to Colbert.

On mobile devices, administrators deal with users, policies and apps or content. That's in contrast with a more archaic Windows desktop world, which suffers from applications that aren't locked down by default and applications that interfere with each other through clashing DLLs and registry settings, Colbert said. With the help of products such as its own Mirage, VMware aims to mimic the mobile world and let admins manage desktops with AirWatch's tool just like any mobile device.

The potential for applying the mobile management architecture on desktops is huge, Colbert said.

He didn't mention ship dates but said the first results of the integration work will emerge quickly, and that IT departments should expect to hear a lot more at VMworld, which takes place at the end of August in San Francisco.

That VMware chose this week to start telling enterprises about its plans for AirWatch is hardly a coincidence. Next week, competitor Citrix Systems will hold its Synergy user conference in Los Angeles, where it is expected to talk about how desktops and mobile devices can become more integrated.

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Mikael Ricknäs

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