VMware Adds Intelligence, Integrated AirWatch Mobility Management to Workspace One

VMware showcased its forthcoming Workspace One upgrade at VMworld with an integrated AirWatch UEM agent, extended Windows 10 management and AirLift to ease migration from Microsoft’s SCCM and extended endpoint support.

Jeffrey Schwartz

August 29, 2018

6 Min Read
VMware's Pat Gelsinger and Ray O'Farrell on stage at VWworld 2018.

(Pictured above: VMware’s Pat Gelsinger and Ray O’Farrell on stage at VWworld 2018.)

VMWARE VMWORLD — VMware is broadening the reach and capabilities of its Workspace One digital virtual client and application management environment with extended capability and support for Windows 10 PCs, mobile PCs and IoT-based edge devices.

The company demonstrated its new Workspace ONE Intelligent Hub at this week’s VMworld in Las Vegas. It combines into one application the Workspace One digital end user environment with VMware’s AirWatch device and policy management tool for protecting information across corporate and employee-owned devices.

Workspace One is VMware’s digital workspace and unified endpoint management (UEM) platform designed to give workers access to their desktop configurations and applications on any system or device. By integrating the AirWatch Agent with Workspace One, the new “intelligent hub” provides a single source of management, said Jeff McGrath, VMware’s senior director of product marketing for Workspace One.

“It’s a lot easier for the user because we can use that central point on the device to pipe more services to them and make it a more usable and feature-rich application,” McGrath told Channel Futures. The new Workspace One Intelligent Hub user experience provides an embedded URL into the user workspace that defaults to an intranet or external web page, a notification service to issue organizational alerts and a search interface for finding contacts and those within a group.

“We will continue to add to intelligent hub with more capabilities to bring more engagement and value to the employee,” McGrath said. “For example, we’ll probably add some type of how-to capability so users can reset passwords, recover encryption keys [and] fix simple issues without opening a help-desk ticket to keep them working quicker, if there’s an issue.”

McGrath said the company is in the early stages of training its solution-provider and integration partners on the new Workspace One upgrade, which is set for release by Nov. 2.

“All of our certification courses already up to date on these new features,” McGrath said.

Early Adoption

The new Workspace One Intelligent Hub is a critical focus of VMware’s portfolio and competes with Citrix Workspace, both of which are still in the early stages of delivering applications to workers on multiple devices and form factors, said Bob O’Donnell, president and chief analyst with TECHnalysis Research.

“They’ve been talking about this for years and years, but I think the combination of SaaS-based applications and the growth that they’ve had, as well as people starting to embrace the PC-as-a-service model, is getting people to think differently about how they manage their devices as well as how they deliver applications,” O’Donnell said. “It’s all part of the bigger picture of how the market is thinking about moving towards workspace as a service.”

As reported earlier this week, VMware also has tapped the PC business unit of corporate parent Dell Technologies to offer systems with Workspace One pre-installed and ready to provision. The Dell Provisioning for Workspace ONE will give employees their Win32 applications pre-installed, allowing them to be used once they enroll or recover their systems. It also enables self-service recovery.

“You give [employees] their credentials, and everything else is delivered by Workspace ONE — your image, your software, everything patched and upgraded, transforming your business beginning from your device experience,” said VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger, speaking in the opening keynote address at VMworld.

AirLift for Windows 10 Migration

One part of the new Workspace One release that VMware said is now generally available is AirLift, a connector promised earlier this year designed to provide a faster way to move away from Microsoft’s System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM).

While SCCM is the default management tool used by large Windows shops for more than 20 years, Microsoft has signaled that organizations should plan to transition to a more modern approach to managing Windows 10.  

Small and midsize organizations can shift to the modern UEM approach more easily than large enterprises, which typically maintain various Windows images, group policies, have more legacy applications, and are accustomed to using SCCM with Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) to roll out updates and patches.


VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger on stage at VMware VMworld 2018.

VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger on stage at VMware VMworld 2018.

While Microsoft believes its own Azure-based Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS) service is the most viable approach for those looking to shift to Windows 10’s modern UEM model, the company also opened the EMS Intune Graph APIs to VMware and other UEM providers.

VMware has incorporated those APIs into the new Workspace One release, which also incorporates behavioral analytics capabilities it gained from last year’s acquisition of Apteligent, to add more predictive-management capabilities.

For example, it can help determine if an OS should accept patches and updates based on the version of apps on the device, hardware and aligned with group policy objects (GPOs). Now that Microsoft gives Windows 10 feature updates twice per year in addition to regular patch releases, managing the provisioning of these updates is critical.

Microsoft’s co-management option that lets organizations use SCCM and Intune together supports a limited number of workloads, according to McGrath.

“So basically, you’re stuck with two solutions for some period of time,” he said.

McGrath said the AirLift server-side connector provides an iterative approach to SCCM co-management by automating the migration of SCCM collections and PC life-cycle management (PCLM) workloads, including Win32 application packages, to Workspace One.

“Our goal with AirLift is to make it as quick as possible a transition if that’s what you want to do,” McGrath said.

Workspace One also includes Center for Internet Security (CIS) and other templates with polices that configure Group Policies over-the-air, providing GPO coverage that extends beyond native mobile-device management (MDM).

Asked to what extent VMware is working with MSPs to enable them to provide managed UEM services with Workspace One, McGrath said the company will step up that effort in the beginning of 2019.

“I still think Windows 10 modern management is in the very beginning of its life cycle,” he said. “Sales implementations led by partners are just beginning.”

Extending Horizon

VMware also intends to offer integration of its Horizon 7 catalog of VDI, virtual applications and SaaS services offered with the Workspace One Intelligence platform, which will allow for implementation of policies, enable monitoring and update images.

The company released previews of Instant Clones, App Volumes and User Environment for Horizon 7 for its VMware Cloud on AWS offering. VMware also extended the VM types and regions Horizon is available on Microsoft Azure, including Azure Government.

Horizon 7 also will have extended GPU support for AMD Radion Pro 340 MxGPUs and NVIDIA Tesla V100 graphics cards and vMotion for NVIDIA GPUs.  

Added Device and IoT Support

In addition to offering improved Windows 10 migration and management services, the updated Workspace One will offer unified support for Android Enterprise profiles and Samsung’s Knox mobile device management tool, MacOS app life-cycle enforcement and Google Glass.

During the VMworld keynote session, VMware CTO Ray O’Farrell demonstrated ESXi on ARM, a hypervisor for bare-metal 64-bit ARM servers.

“There’s a whole new class of computing devices at the edge, embedded or IoT,” Farrell said. “In many cases these will be in factories, your buildings controlling air conditioning, etc. This new class of computing needs to be managed and secured.”  

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About the Author(s)

Jeffrey Schwartz

Jeffrey Schwartz has covered the IT industry for nearly three decades, most recently as editor-in-chief of Redmond magazine and executive editor of Redmond Channel Partner. Prior to that, he held various editing and writing roles at CommunicationsWeek, InternetWeek and VARBusiness (now CRN) magazines, among other publications.

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