AirWatch Connect 2016: Live blog and news updates

The VMware AirWatch Connect conference is going on now. Follow along here for everything you need to know.

The VMware AirWatch Connect conference was this week in Atlanta, and I was there to cover all the news. This post contains my live blogs of the main Day 1 and Day 2 keynotes, as well as links to VMware's announcements. I'll post my final wrap up and full analysis on Monday.

Announcements from VMware

Day 1 Keynote Live Blog

9:06 Seated and almost ready to go. My fellow TechTargeter Ramin Edmond is here reporting for SearchMobileComputing. Word on the floor (from VMware) is that there are 1800 attendees here this year. Word is also that Connect will be co-located/merged with VMworld for next year.

9:30 Starting on time! Noah Wasmer is onstage. Plus I just realized that there’s a Microsoft Surface (the big one) on the stage. This is the 5th AirWatch Connect. (I think it’s my 4th.) They have a few celebrity speakers for later... these are cool, but sometimes I’d rather just use the keynote time for more nerding out and announcements.

9:36 Rolling pre-recorded customer testimonials. Customers are ANZ Banking group, Meckleburg County (talking about Windows 10!), Intermountain Healthcare (talking about remote wiping a lost phone), and Sprint.

9:39 Noah is talking about how AirWatch is investing in their SaaS environment, including bandwidth, a content delivery network, and a pre-production environment. Next are the ways that they’ve improved support. They also started a beta program for the AW platform. Plus they do AW training and certifications.

  • Regarding AirWatch: “It’s one of the fastest growing businesses VMware has ever seen.”
  • AppConfig Community stats: 7 different EMM vendors, over 100 ISVs.

9:43 Sanjay Poonen is onstage now, talking about mobile and digital transformation. Now onto VMware EUC. It’s “any app, any device.” He’s talking about all the types of apps and devices (including desktops, laptops, and legacy apps) and talking about how they’re neutral, like Switzerland. I guess the implication is that Microsoft isn’t neutral?

When VMware acquired AirWatch, about 50% of employees enrolled their devices. The other half resisted enrollment. So then they built Workspace One, and everybody downloaded that.

9:53 Now they’re rolling a pre-recorded demo of Workspace One. This audience is pretty familiar with all this stuff, so they can go through it pretty quickly.

  • Showing iPad with DEP, Boxer, Workspace One, Socialcast, Content Locker, etc etc.
  • “Plus there’s VDI, with a Windows app running on a server!”
  • Now he’s talking about how Windows 10 can be managed like a mobile device.
  • Also the NSX micro-segmentation integration. This is from last year, but it’s still awesome.

9:58 Now time to bring customers/partners onstage. First up is Senthil Krishnapillai from SAP. (Sanjay came from SAP, too.) He’s talking about Fiori, which is SAP’s marketing term for their modern UI and UX efforts, and all the ways SAP and AirWatch integrate, including ID, app signing/distribution, and app configuration.

10:05 Next is Kevin Gilroy, EVP/GM of Samsung Electronics America. He’s talking about how they do lots of B2B things, not just consumer. Sanjay mentions a promotion—if you (I’m assuming “you” means a business) buy a Samsung Galaxy from AT&T or Sprint, you get an AirWatch Green license free for 12 months. Another announcement: they’re talking about a program to securely switch from BlackBerry devices over to Samsung. There are still 2 million of them out there.

10:10 Now a quick mention of Unified Endpoint Management. Sanjay’s saying that UEM can reduce costs by 15-30%. Also, UEM also means the “things” in IoT.

10:13 Now someone from Dell is onstage, Steve Lalla. “Welcome to the Dell Technology Family.” They used Horizon to help with accessing apps after the merger.

10:19 Interviews continue with Sue Harris, who does EUC at Boeing. She says they’re still a big BlackBerry shop. They use Knox and AirWatch, too, though. Mobility obviously has lots of uses on factory floor and in repair shops—saves lots of time when a mechanic is 30 feet in the air working on a plane. Also mentioning augmented reality—imagine how much faster you could learn how to do a task by seeing a visualization right in front of you instead of reading instructions from a paper. “We’ve had glitches along the way” but things are good now. They’re deploying lots of Samsung devices every day.

10:30 Sanjay said Apple is doing a special event later this evening. Cool.

10:31 Now Blake Brannon is onstage for demos! Sumit Dhawan is going to help. First they’re talking about the unified app catalog. All your apps, any device. One of the improvements over the last year is SSO. This is just videos for now, but there are real devices onstage, too. There’s someone in the background wearing a Microsoft Hololens, but right now they’re talking about how they’ve improved the UX in all the VMware/AirWatch apps, like Boxer. Boxer has swipe gestures, predictive folders, scheduling, one touch dialing, availability, attachments. Some of this is old hat, but it’s essential that enterprise email clients are comparible to consumer email clients. New version of Boxer is out now, for iOS and Android.

10:42 Capriza and Powwow got a shoutout and quick demo.

10:43 Sumit is now talking about how you can move from unmanaged devices, to MAM, to MDM.

Blake: “Containers on top of devices have limited value.” He’s saying standalone MAM model doesn’t work as well as OS-enabled MAM. As anyone who's followed me will know, I disagree—there are still lots of tradeoffs between standalone MAM and OS-based MAM.

10:49 Now they’re on to the identity portion, talking about how EMM and ID together can enable smarter policies, etc. Blake is showing how MfA can kick in while just doing certain sensitive actions within apps. They use CASB integrations to do this. They can make this based on content-specific DLP policies, too.

10:58 Okay, now time to dig into PC management. They don’t just do MDM for Windows—they can also do configuration, software distribution, patch management, etc. They’re showing traditional apps being deployed from Workspace One and AirWatch, too. Then for some legacy apps (like IE 6), you remote them.

  • They’re announcing a tech preview of App Stacks.
  • AirWatch can point your devices to Microsoft for updates, but AirWatch can whitelist what updates you want to happen.
  • Now they’re showing a demo of TrustPoint/Tanium look for security issues in real time. They can find a malware-infected app and remove it in real time. This plugs into the Workspace One device compliance engine, too.

11:14 Time to talk about managing and securing VR and AR devices. AirWatch is extending to do this. The Microsoft Surface onstage is managed with AirWatch. Blake is tap dancing a bit while they try to do a Skype call to Sanjay, who is backstage. The call doesn’t seem to be going through, so he’s demoing the management interface.

Now there’s a Hololens demo. You can manage and provision them from AirWatch. Blake used an augmented reality app, and tweeted a screenshot, all from the Hololens.

11:23 Sumit is back on stage, recapping what’s new. They’re offering free WorkSpace One set up through the end of the year. More news coming tomorrow. David Pogue is the guest speaker. He’s super cool (and apparently he’s going to be singing and playing piano) but I won’t be blogging this part.

Day 2 Keynote Live Blog

9:11 Seated and getting ready for Day 2! We expect a few more announcements today—one already came in this morning, about new analytics capabilities in AirWatch. Noah Wasmer will be speaking a lot today.

9:30 And we’re starting! There’s a video of Noah, spoofing Office Space, saying that they have a policy of no personal apps at the office. Lots of laughs from the audience.

9:34 Today is going to cover a lot of future ideas. Noah is starting off by talking about the fourth industrial revolution. Self driving cars, apps, devices that are super powerful (and available as a subscription (iPhone, Surface)), machine learning, stuff like that.

More trends: Mobile cloud, unlimited compute and network, API economy (even Walgreens has an API), and machine learning. Machine learning is going to be especially disruptive. Fortunately for IT, it can help us with security.

Meanwhile... Noah says that many enterprise companies face a lot of friction. Slide that gets a lot of laughs: “...We’re just finishing up our upgrade to Office 2010.” Similar problems in schools: they face small budgets. There’s light at the end of the tunnel, though. More companies are starting to create apps and transform processes. Noah says AirWatch is here to help. He’s going to show how.

9:45 Noah: It starts with the platforms. Apple has done massive updates (like iOS 9.3, DEP, VPP) and AirWatch supported it all from the beginning. Another example is AppConfig. (Apple is acknowledging this, too. This is big.) Google, too. They’re making Android for Work enrollment easier. And now Windows 10, too.

9:48 Jason Roszak, who’s responsible for all the Windows management efforts at AirWatch, is on stage. We’ve been talking about Windows 10 management a lot at BrianMadden.com for the last year, but AirWatch wants to make sure that their mobile audience really gets the message.

We learned a few new things yesterday about how AirWatch’s Windows 10 management works—AirWatch built a lot of new management tools, going beyond MDM. And it’s not just TrustPoint/Tanium, there’s other new stuff. Gabe will look into this more in the coming weeks.

They can take all your desktop apps, package them, and provision them from the cloud with an MDM-like distribution model.

9:54 It’s also about ruggedized devices. There’s a new reference architecture available today that Noah says can scale to 600,000 devices.

Today they’re also announcing new reporting capabilities. More on this later.

9:58 Now Blake is coming back onstage to talk about managing smart glasses. It’s like mobile devices—when you just have a few you can manage them manually, but when you do bigger deployments you need EMM for them. He’s showing how AirWatch can do this management.

He’s going to demo some glasses now. There’s a whole area for AR/VR/glasses etc. in the expo hall, so you can check some of these out on your own. That’s my first stop this afternoon. This stuff is really big for manufacturing, warehouses, etc. And it’s available now and in use in the real world.

10:05 Next up: How UI/UX with simpler, better processes can really impact businesses. Marshall Anne Busbee, who does apps product management, is onstage, talking about how users will prefer to manage their email inboxes in different ways (filing, purging, reading everything, etc). Having an app that can accommodate all these different work styles is important. New Boxer features are out now; there’s a tech preview of an Apple Watch extension coming up. There are going to be new features in all of their productivity apps every month.

10:16 Noah is announcing something called Project Janus. There was a press release this morning. Scott Kelly, the product manager, is on stage. Project Janus is all about creating more powerful reporting capabilities. AirWatch is applying artificial intelligence and machine learning to all the analytics that come out of Workspace One.

What can you do? See how users are using apps, build models, do license management. Other examples are device health—you can look at metrics from the device, predict when it’s going to die, and plan to order a new one. Or a teacher can see what educational apps higher-performing students are using, and recommend them to others. And of course security is a big use case. They can look for abnormal behavior, and use it to create access policies in Workspace One.

10:26 Now Noah is talking about “micro moments.” The idea is using analytics to help users with quick tasks. For example, based on content of email, related data, apps, or functions can be invoked.

Another example: His team built proof of concept of a smart assistant app that leverages data from multiple enterprise apps. It’s kind of like Siri, except it can reach into Salesforce, employee directories, maps; it uses Workspace One infrastructure; etc.

10:30 Noah is wrapping up now. Time for the guest speaker, Jason Silva. I’m guessing this won’t be EMM related, so I’m going silent for a bit.

In the meantime, another announcement came out: Symantec is now part of the VMware AirWatch Mobile Security Alliance.

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