UEM, Office 365, identity, and storage: Hot topics from our BrianMadden.com After Hours event in DC

We had an excellent time in Washington DC, in large part because of all the great conversations we had with the attendees. Here are the hottest topics of the evening.

During our BrianMadden.com After Hours event last week in Washington, DC (which was awesome!), there were a few topics that seemed to rile up the audience: Unified Endpoint Management, Identity, Office 365, and storage. Since we had such good discussions, I thought I'd share my key takeaways from them.

If people are excited about UEM, they sure have a funny way of showing it.

Many folks seem less enthusiastic than I do. In an article I wrote around VMworld, I said I wanted UEM, and that I thought it was the future, but also that it had a long way to go before we saw any amount of buy-in. The reality is that the only companies that could even remotely use UEM today are green field startups that want to enforce some sort of corporate policies on their phones, tablets, and desktops.

That's probably more companies than you'd think, especially when you expand "desktops" to mean both macOS and Windows-based, which both have MDM APIs, but in reality the MDM vendors are going to have a hard time convincing organizations that leverage domain-based resources and GPOs to switch platforms. Fortunately, VMware and MobileIron have been pretty vocal as they hatch a plan to take UEM into the enterprise, and we're seeing lots of innovation. Most recently, MobileIron released MobileIron Bridge, which uses MDM to deploy an agent on the legacy side of Windows. This agent can then process and implement group policy files on the local security policy of the UEM-managed machine.

It's so early that everyone is taking a wait-and-see approach. Nobody I spoke with seems to hate the concept of UEM, though, so when it's ready I suspect we'll see some real interest.

Man, is Office 365 popular!

A number of attendees have at least considered Office 365, which is no surprise given Microsoft currently has 92 million Office 365 customers. Of those, 70 million are corporate, and that number is growing quickly.

Still, deploying Office 365 to your traditional desktop users is one thing, but deploying it to your virtual desktop users and special use cases is another. At least one attendee was running an on-premises Exchange server to accommodate a special use case unrelated to OST files (though that would have come up eventually). Others were running webmail as a workaround for Office 365's lack of support for direct connections to Exchange servers. Many, though, had yet to reach the phase of their project where that became an issue.

I wrote more about this a few weeks ago when I covered FSLogix's Office 365 Containers, so I'll spare you more details. I will say that it seems like FSLogix nailed the timing of their release because there are a lot of people that can use their help.

Identity has a new identity

This is Jack's beat more than mine, and I know that he has an article in the works that deals specifically with Identity as a Service, so I'll leave the nitty-gritty to him. My takeaway from the event, though, is that Identity is becoming a huge deal even among people that are primary responsible for desktops. The need to simplify identity management grows with each cloud service a company uses.

If you think you have an Identity Management platform in your company, ask yourself this question: "Was it there before 2011?" If so, we're probably talking about two different things. Back in the day, Identity Management was about keeping various user directories within your organization in sync with one another. You may still need that platform, but you need something else to help you manage all the identities that your users need to use cloud services. Basically, if you hear Identity Management and think, "We've been doing that for years," then it's time to take a fresh look at the landscape.

Storage is still hot

One of the new things we're doing at these After Hours events is interviewing the sponsors on stage as opposed to handing them the projector and kicking them off stage after fifteen minutes. This new approach is really fun, because not only do we get to ask questions, but we can help steer the conversation towards what the attendees want.

At our show last week, Tintri was a sponsor, and before we started I told them what I wanted to learn from their presentation: What makes Tintri's all-flash storage different from all the other all-flash storage arrays out there?

They answered that by showing how their storage solution tunes itself to the workloads automatically, and how they have insight into the VMs themselves rather than taking a LUN-centric approach. Tintri ensures QoS by automatically putting different types of VM into "Isolation Lanes" that prevent one lane (say, SQL) from stealing resources from another (like VDI desktops).

Overall, more questions were asked of Tintri during their segment than in any one of the segments that Jack and I did. It goes to show that even with so many options available for storage optimization, there is still a huge need. Companies that need it are often paralyzed by the number of choices out there, so it was fun to have an open discussion about it.

Next up, MSP

Our next BrianMadden.com After Hours show is in Minneapolis on December 6. I'm not sure I'll write up something after each show, but if the discussions that we have there are as interesting as the ones we had in DC, perhaps there will be some topics worth sharing with everyone. If you’re in the area, we’d love to see you. More information is on our events page.

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