With VMworld approaching, we're nearing the one-year anniversary of their big push towards Unified Endpoint Management, or "the new UEM." The intervening 12 months, however, have been pretty quiet on the VMware front, especially considering products from MobileIron and PolicyPak (which I wrote about last week).
VMware hasn't been completely silent, though. When Windows 10 S was announced, they wrote about how they already work with it. Of course, Windows 10 S can only be managed by MDM anyway, so that makes sense. But in my mind, that's not the same thing as UEM. From a management perspective, Windows 10 S machines might as well be iOS or Android.
They also made an announcement with Dell that allows AirWatch to query/retrieve system attributes, configure BIOS settings, and take remediation actions. This isn't touching Windows, but it does give centralized configuration of the BIOS.
Then, AirWatch 9.1 added the ability to turn on BitLocker, remote wipe, and push updates out to Windows 10 devices.
These are all valuable features that, for most companies, either give them new capabilities or consolidates management platforms. They're good to have, but they still don't address the main problem that we had after VMworld last year (and that I wrote about last week): They don't help bridge the gap between traditional management and modern management.
Don't get me wrong—I'm still on board, and these features are definitely going to sweeten the pot in a "nice to have" kind of way. But to get people to shift from the way they've been managing desktops for 25 years to something entirely new, VMware is going to have to take steps to help get them to UEM. Left alone, UEM simply represents another thing we have to manage our devices.
This notion that organizations need help along the way isn't lost on VMware. People we spoke with last year agreed that while it was important to show what UEM could do right now, there was still work to do in order to provide a path to adoption. Note, I'm not saying a migration path, since I think we're a ways away from that phase of UEM. Right now, the priority should be set on leveling the playing field between traditional management and UEM.
Last year, VMware was leaning on TrustPoint (via their partnership with Tanium) to help on this front. With TrustPoint, from a security perspective admins could manage devices in any location, whether they were domain-joined or not. It was cool technology that made for an impressive demo at VMworld 2016. Several months ago, though, that relationship fell apart, which means VMware is in a worse position now than they were at VMworld.
(And going even farther back, remember at VMworld 2015 there was talk of Project A², which used App Volumes to provision traditional desktop apps to AirWatch-managed Windows 10 devices. However, talk of Project A² seemed to fizzle out around the time the Tanium partnership arrived.)
To push the UEM agenda forward, VMware has to replace what they once had with TrustPoint while also finding a way to even the score between traditional management and UEM. So far, the work they've put into AirWatch suggests that they are heading towards this goal, but they haven't yet laid out the course for the rest of us to see. With luck, we'll have some more visibility into this process at VMworld.