AirWatch Connect Keynote: AirWatch is embracing multiple approaches to EMM

I'm spending a few days in Atlanta, Georgia to check out AirWatch's user conference, AirWatch Connect.

I’m spending a few days in Atlanta, Georgia to check out AirWatch’s user conference, AirWatch Connect. (Press release here.)Yesterday’s keynote with CEO John Marshall brought several major announcements. (We had him on the podcast last week.)

AirWatch Workspace

Probably the biggest announcement was AirWatch Workspace. Workspace is a mobile app that ties together all of AirWatch’s other apps to create an ecosystem of managed corporate apps that can reside on devices that are not managed with MDM. (There are a lot of different terms for this, such as containerization or dual persona mobile app management.)

AirWatch was in the past an MDM-focused company, but they’ve been building up their MAM offerings for some time. In January, they began offering MAM as a free-standing product.

Now they’re coming to a big arrival point where they’re offering dual persona MAM as an alternative to MDM. They did a good job of framing all the reasons why you might not want to use MDM—such as BYOD, privacy concerns, devices that are only used occasionally, or devices that are managed by other companies.

They’re behind some other vendors in terms of providing both managed and unmanaged device options, but from what we saw at the keynote, it was worth the wait. They emphasized that since they created everything from the ground up, the administration of both managed and unmanaged devices is completely integrated. It’s possible to use both techniques within a single instance, or to combine techniques; and it all runs from a single console. Users can choose how their devices are managed, or use different techniques for different devices.

So what are all these apps that get tied together into the Workspace ecosystem? The Workspace app itself acts as an app catalogue, and the other apps include AirWatch’s secure browser, their file syncing app, and their email clients. (AirWatch didn’t previously have an iOS email client, but they do now in order to complete the suite.) Other apps can be incorporated through AirWatch’s MAM SDK, app wrapping tool, or through partner ISVs.

Other Announcements

AirWatch Workspace was the big news, but there were plenty of other announcements, too:

  • The AirWatch Marketplace. This isn’t just a list of MAM-compatible apps like you might expect, rather it’s a detailed repository of information about all sorts of EMM-related vendors that partner with AirWatch
  • New telecom expense management features, built into AirWatch’s apps and MDM.
  • The file syncing client (known as the Secure Content Locker) will include document editing. (The AirWatch file syncing product got a host of significant improvements earlier this summer.)
  • A new app reputation service. (This is kind of like light version of what Appthority does, but Appthority is still a partner.) (More on Appthority soon.)
  • Increased analytical capabilities, including the ability to see aggregate data of all of AirWatch’s customers. (The data is anonymized and sorted by industry.)

All of these are coming out with version 6.5 of AirWatch, which is being rolled into the production environment for cloud users over the next few weeks. The new Workspace apps are currently undergoing public app store reviews. Lastly, a simplified and redesigned management interface will be coming with AirWatch version 7.

iOS 7

Just a quick note on iOS 7: Even though the new iPhones were announced yesterday, it was a non-event for the EMM world, since the NDA on iOS 7 won’t lift until next week. However, AirWatch said that support for iOS 7 is ready, and will be available at that time. They’ll also have lots of training materials and documentation.

Overall impression of AirWatch Connect

What was it like to be at AirWatch’s conference all week? This company is growing super fast, and they have 1500 employees now. The whole show has a frenetic, optimistic energy. There are 1100 people here, mostly customers, AirWatch employees, and partners; in the exhibit hall there are about 80 vendors. It's definitely been a good show so far, and the coolest part is that everyone here is geeking out about the same thing—enterprise mobility management.

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