Let’s take a look at the VMware Horizon Workspace mobile apps

VMware is launching Horizon Suite today, which includes updates to View and Mirage as well as a new product to tie together all of the pieces together, Horizon Workspace. Gabe wrote an overview of the whole suite and gave details about the new features in the desktop-related products; here I'm going to dig into the mobile apps.

VMware is launching Horizon Suite today, which includes updates to View and Mirage as well as a new product to tie together all of the pieces together, Horizon Workspace. Gabe wrote an overview of the whole suite and gave details about the new features in the desktop-related products; here I’m going to dig into the mobile apps.

The mobile apps

The Horizon Workspace apps for iPhone, iPad, and Android bring together access to files, applications, and Windows desktops (desktops are omitted for the iPhone app) arranged in tabs. The application tab, which inherits the functionality of the previous Horizon App Manager, only launches web apps in the device’s built-in browser, but presumably it will be able to launch native apps in the future (more on that below). Launching a Windows desktop triggers the device the launch native View client, which continues to be a seperate app. If the View client isn’t on the device, the desktop will launch in the browser and be delivered by Blast, VMware’s HTML 5 remote desktop protocol.

The data tab incorporates functionality from Horizon Data, and it’s pretty much like any other “enterprise version of Dropbox” app. IT can control what’s allowed to be saved locally and whether or not users are allowed to open documents into other apps. It’s also possible to selectively whitelist which other apps are allowed to open documents, regardless of where the apps came from or how they’re managed. Why is this so special? In order to get granular control of the “open in...” function, most other file syncing solutions require that the whitelisted apps be managed and deployed by IT.

We’re still waiting on most of the other Horizon Mobile components, which include the mobile virtualization platform for Android and app wrapping and an email client for iOS. For both platforms, Horizon Workspace will gain a secure browser app and document editing capabilities. All of this will supposedly be coming sometime in 2013.

Overall impression 

It’s good to see that Horizon Data is finally  out—we’ve always said that file-syncing is an important first step and easy win when it comes to embracing enterprise mobility management—but as Gabe wrote, the problem is on the back end; there’s no integration with file storage solutions other than Horizon. Mobile file syncing apps and the backend storage that supports should be two completely independent variables. Integration with more types of file systems is expected in the future for Horizon Data, so when that happens the product will be able to satisfy many more use cases.

Horizon Data’s granular “open-in...”whitelisting feature is a win on several counts. First of all, it’s a useful way for any EMM solution to give outside apps controlled access to corporate resources. Second, for VMware in particular it’s good to have because their iOS app wrapping product isn’t out yet. Finally, it’s also good because they don’t have any plans for Android app wrapping.

As we know, VMware’s plans for Android are all based on the mobile virtualization platform. The idea is that when you’re managing and securing an entire Android virtual machine, you don’t need to worry about app wrapping because there are no personal user apps in the corporate image. The problem is that bringing Android virtualization to market requires the cooperation telco carriers and device OEMs, which is a clearly a difficult process. While VMware says that the MVP is on its way, no matter how you look at it you’ll have to support non-virtualized devices. The Horizon Workspace app for Android gives us a way to do that.

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Want to learn more about Horizon and VMware’s enterprise mobility management plans? VMware’s EUC evangelist Ben Goodman will join Colin Steele, James Furbush, and me for the Consumerization Nation podcast on Thursday, February 21 at 1pm EST / 10am PST. Come join the conversation!

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