In November 2018, Awingu and BlackBerry announced their partnership. In this blog, l’ll highlight what we know so far. But, first things first, Awingu isn’t new by any means, and throughout the last couple of years, they have earned their stripes in the competitive world that we like to call EUC. For those of you unfamiliar with Awingu, let me start with a brief rundown on what they bring to the table.
Who they are and what they do
While Awingu (based in Ghent, Belgium) has been in business since late 2011, the foundation of their product as we know it today found its origin back in 2014 when Awingu merged with a company named Dacentec.
Before, their main product was a hardware- and software-based cloud stack aimed at service providers. It was Awingu that was responsible for the software layer; in that sense, they’ve always been a software-driven company with a focus on cloud technologies.
Today, Awingu offers a unified workspace and aggregation (single interface) platform, offering (secure) remote access to your corporate data; SaaS; web; and “legacy” (Windows) applications and desktops, including WVD/Windows 10 multi-user. It’s accessible from a HTML5-capable browser, and thus, any device and location independent. Not a bad thing to have in this “hybrid” world we live in.
In a nutshell
Its core is a virtual appliance (can be stacked/clustered) with all bells and whistles built-in. Think, encryption, MFA, SSO (they have something new on this coming, soon!), auditing (GDPR compliant), printing, file management and sharing, an open API, etc.
It translates RDP into HTML5 letting you modernize (older) RDS based deployments, or build complete new ones. Essentially, it SaaS-ifys your existing “legacy” applications, or that’s what it will look like to your users anyway. It’s available on premises as well as on any cloud, and can be made multi tenant when desired.
I recently gave the platform a spin, and I can confirm they did a solid job of putting it together. It’s simple and straightforward to setup, configure, and operate; the user experience is great, too. In a short talk with both Awingu CEO Walter van Uytven and CMO Arnaud Marliere, they told me about some of the upcoming features currently being developed that sounded promising (though most remain under NDA, for now).
Once dominant in the field of mobile communications and known for their palm-sized devices (with their tiny mechanical keyboards), BlackBerry now focuses on secure mobile communications, crisis communications, and embedded software. (Editor’s note: You can read more about BlackBerry’s strategy here.) An ambitious goal, yes, but given their background in data security combined with their Enterprise Mobility Suite, not an impossible one.
BlackBerry Access is a secure browser solution (backed by BlackBerry UEM, it has roots in Good Technology) which gets installed on the end user’s device offering support for iOS, Android, Windows, and macOS. The idea is that users can easily and securely access corporate intranet, email, contacts, and more without the need for setting up VPNs and such. It’s something we’ve seen from other vendors as well.
While it will be different from the browser you are used to, it’s still a local browser. It has been built using Chromium libraries offering familiar capabilities as well as look and feel.
BlackBerry secure browser offers various out-of-the-box features like access to HTML5 (web) applications, secure containers (separating business and personal data), remote browser management (separate from the device), and more. IT can apply various DLP policies, as well. However, the addition and integration of Awingu unlocks a world of new possibilities.
Setup and functionality
By placing the Awingu appliance behind the BlackBerry Access secure browser, users can access their Awingu workspace, adding additional functionality next to what BlackBerry Access already offers. In the latest version of BlackBerry Access, single sign-on is included, meaning you sign in to BlackBerry secure browser and you’ll be signed into Awingu as well.
As of version 2.0.1.x and higher, the BlackBerry sign-in portal offers a quick launch button to your Awingu workspace. Additionally, “in focus” applications or desktops can be launched automatically as soon as a user has authenticated into Awingu.
With your Awingu workspace available via the BlackBerry secure browser, you now have access to you entire company backend offering. things like hosted and shared desktop solutions, including WVD for example, published applications, various data sources, SaaS apps, collaboration features, and more.
On October 1-2 and 8 the BlackBerry World Tour conference will strike down in London, England, and The Haque, the Netherlands, respectively. It’s there that I’m expecting to hear more about their partnership and upcoming releases since Awingu and BlackBerry will be presenting a joint session.
Secure browsers and containers are nothing new, neither are digital workspace solutions. However, I like how they’ve combined the two, building on top of each other’s strengths. Awingu can be considered a full-blown workspace replacement, an aggregator as a means to simplify and enhance the overall UX, and now in combination with BlackBerry Access.
Their joint effort aligns with BlackBerry’s new set-out strategy; time will tell how big of an impact this will have. For Awingu, the direct impact will be bigger as many of BlackBerry’s existing customers might be interested in what they have to offer, and rightfully so, if you ask me. It’s easy to implement, you don’t need a ton of backend machines, and if you’re already a BlackBerry customer I would consider this “low hanging fruit” up for grabs.
As BYOD and mobile device/modern management are still huge, I’m looking forward to hearing what’s new with both BlackBerry (I’ll be keeping a closer eye on both from now on) as well as Awingu going forward. I’ll make sure to check in with any updates in the (near) future.