VMware focuses on end user productivity with Workspace ONE, Horizon updates

Having helped transform the data centre to one that is software-defined, VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger said the company is now looking to do the same for the end-user environment as well.

As part of the company’s launch of its Workspace ONE product, he said the company is shifting its business that has a heritage in the data centre. “Our future is delivering the same transformative software but for an expansive set of resources in the mobile cloud.”

That expansive set of mobile devices accessing content and applications used to be just the desktop PC, he said, but now the goal is to deliver any application to any device. VMware has described its new initiative, which also includes updates to its Horizon and Horizon Air products, as “one cloud, any application and any device.”

A key part of this single architecture future, said Gelsinger, is security. “It’s architected in from its very foundation.”

Sanjay Poonen, VMware’s executive vice-president and general manager for end-user computing said the company is “laser-focused” on delivering its vision of a digital workplace, which builds on its recent acquisitions in the end user computing space, including AirWatch, as well as its partnerships, including its collaboration with Microsoft announced at VMworld.

End user computing is one of the fastest growing businesses segments with VMware, according to Poonen, with 62,000 customers and a 30 per cent growth rate. He said its success has been driven by a focus on vertical industries, including retailers and banks, which are opting to take out legacy systems and move to VMware.

With Workspace One, the company is looking to accommodate both corporate-owned and personal devices with the simplicity that consumers expect and the enterprise security IT departments require. “Lines of business want choice, IT wants control,” he said. “When we can bring those together, it’s magic.”

The goal, said Poonen, is to support any app regardless of platform, including the Web, Windows desktops, Android tablets, iPhones, and even a vending machine. VMware’s investment in mobile management, including AirWatch, are the building blocks for Workspace One, but the secret sauce is combining with identity management. “Identity management is the golden key that lets you open up any door.”

What has bogged down enterprises is having to manage the multiple keys that have to be given to users, and then managed in order to give them access to applications and services. Modern mobile devices can enable secure access through fingerprint technology, even retina scans, said Poonen, which means a finger needs to be cut off and an eye plucked out in order to steal an identity. VMware doesn’t see identity-as-a-service a separate market. Instead, he said, the company is embedding it in all of its management products.

Sumit Dhawahn, VMware’s senior vice-president and general manager of desktop products, said the digital workplace starts with mobility due to the rapid expansion of apps that have to be delivered to a range of devices. That expansion has been driven by the consumerization of IT. Most enterprises today have siloes for desktop and mobile, which is not a practical approach, he said.

The simplicity VMware is aiming for with Workspace One can be seen in the onboarding process: a remote employee could receive a new iPad via FedEx, turn it on and have a configured device with a catalog of available services and apps ready, all of which can be delivered to any device they use with a consistent experience, including a personally-owned device. The same apps delivered to the iPad could be delivered to an iPhone, while at the backend, IT is able to provide conditional access, including which applications are available via a VPN or assigned policies at a network level.

There is also content control built. For example, content copied from a corporate-managed Word document can’t be pasted into a Twitter application and tweeted out, an IT has the power to remove all corporate content from all of a user’s devices from a single dashboard if need be.

There is no need for tokens or passwords in a traditional sense, said Dhawahn. VMware has developed what it claims in an industry-first, patent pending technology that allows it to create trust between applications through its own system.

In addition to unveiling Workspace ONE, VMware also announced Horizon 7 and updates to Horizon Air, which now includes a hybrid mode that allows supports a mix of on-premise and cloud-based apps for end users.

While VMware talked up its many partnerships during the Workspace ONE announcement, including those with Apple and Microsoft, there have been indications that it has struggled to attract customers to its vCloud Air hybrid cloud service since it launched in May 2013; Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure has dominated the market.

Meanwhile, Microsoft also been focused on making its apps and services available on as many devices as possible, and keeping its cloud open to whatever customers want to bring to it, while keeping it secure.

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Gary Hilson
Gary Hilson
Gary Hilson is a Toronto-based freelance writer who has written thousands of words for print and pixel in publications across North America. His areas of interest and expertise include software, enterprise and networking technology, memory systems, green energy, sustainable transportation, and research and education. His articles have been published by EE Times, SolarEnergy.Net, Network Computing, InformationWeek, Computing Canada, Computer Dealer News, Toronto Business Times and the Ottawa Citizen, among others.

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