VMware buys Immidio, foists the new term "Workspace Environment Management" (WEM) on us

Earlier this week VMware announced that they were buying Amsterdam-based Immidio. Friends of BrianMadden.

Earlier this week VMware announced that they were buying Amsterdam-based Immidio. Friends of BrianMadden.com know Immidio well, as they were spun off of Login Consultants in 2008 to focus on selling software while Login remained focused on consulting. Many BriForum presenters worked at Login and/or Immdio over the years, including Jeroen van de Kamp, Rodney Media, Dennis Damen, Wilco van Bragt, Michel Roth, and Benny Tritsch.

Immidio was a “consultants” software company, building products aimed at helping consultants and products that their consultants felt were needed in the industry. Their main product, Flex+, traces its roots back to the Flex Profile Kit which Jeroen van de Kamp created as a freeware tool back in 2003. It was because of the popularity of this tool that we invited Jeroen to speak at our first BriForum ten years ago. Check out the video of his April 2005 Flex Profiles presentation from BriForum here: Part 1 & Part 2. (To be clear, Jeroen is currently the CTO of Login Consultants and will not be joining VMware.)

Anyway, so Immidio has this product called Flex+ which essentially lets you use GPOs to specify which registry keys are saved and restored in a running Windows session. (A simple example is you change a menu setting in an app. That setting is written to the registry. That changed registry key is written up to a file share. The user logs out and logs in somewhere else. That registry setting is copied back and the menu setting in the app is restored to how the user set it.) In practice you can combine these policies and rules to centrally manage settings, allow users to save certain settings while not retaining others, etc.

One of the great things about Flex+ is that it’s scalable. All the users’ settings are saved in INI or XML files (i.e. there’s no database), so it’s simple and fast on the backend. The product came into existence to be used for a customer with 90k desktops, so its scalability is proven.

The other good things about Flex+ are (1) it works on any version of Windows (RDSH sessions, VDI, local desktops, Windows XP, 7, 8, x86, x64, etc.), (2) a single user can be logged into multiple Windows desktops at the same time (i.e. local laptop and remote RDSH apps), and (3) it works offline.

VMware will roll Flex+ into their Horizon product, falling under Harry Labana (along with App Volumes).

But wait, doesn’t VMware already have View Persona?

That was my first thought.

One of the great things about Flex+ over Persona is that Flex+ can be run on existing Windows desktops to suck up all their existing settings. This is great for, oh.. I don’t know… a DaaS provider who hopes to onboard thousands of new users per month. They can basically give them this thing and say, “Here, run this and we’ll collect all your settings that we can now move to our cloud."

Also I think (though I’m not sure, maybe someone can confirm in the comments) that Persona still doesn’t support being logged on to multiple Windows desktops at the same time. So now that VMware is in the published apps business, this is a big deal and something that Flex+ can handle.

Plus the word is that Immidio was cheap, so hey, why not? (VMware disclosed in their 10-Q that they paid $45m for CloudVolumes, so if Immidio doesn’t show up in next quarter’s report then we know they were a lot cheaper than that.)

What the heck is Workspace Environment Management (WEM)?

In his blog post welcoming Immidio, Harry Labana introduced the new term “Workspace Environment Management” (WEM). This is different from the “User Environment Management” (UEM) term that’s almost been catching on industry-wide, so that’s fun.

Harry describes UEM as not just profile management, but also the intelligence to know which settings should be applied when. (i.e. based on user, group, location, device, connection type, etc.)

He then describes that WEM is “above” UEM, as it includes UEM but also includes app delivery—i.e. Published Apps, App-V, App Volumes, ThinApp (if that’s still a thing?)—as well as monitoring.

So the ELI5 version of the story is that WEM is settings (and the knowledge of which settings to apply when), apps, and monitoring, and UEM is just the settings part of that.

Immidio’s Enterprise Mobility play!?!

You may have read on other news sites that VMware’s acquisition of Immidio is about enterprise mobility. (Why would you think that? Oh, I don’t know, maybe because of headlines like VMware bolstering mobile device management tools with Immidio buy or VMware acquires Immidio to personalise mobile stuff.)

Those headlines are misleading and/or false. Immidio only had three products—Flex+, something called AppScriber which is a *Windows* self-service app that lets *Windows* users request *Windows* apps, and the Immidio Resource Kit which is a bunch of tools for RDSH sessions.

So please delete “EMM” from the “Immidio” part of your brain.

Congrats to Gabe & Bridget

One final selfish note, it’s cool when something occasionally goes right for us. (Yeah yeah, a broken clock is right twice a day…)

Gabe wrote an article last October saying that he’d like to see VMware buy one of the straight-up UEM companies like Immidio, Scense, Norskale, or Liquidware, so good call there! And fellow TechTarget writer Bridget Botelho broke the story that VMware was buying Immidio 5 days before it was announced (which I think was first), so that’s kinda cool too. Congrats to both of them.

So where’s the leave us? Overall the Immidio move will be good for VMware. Cheap, proven technology. Fills some gaps. Hopefully it was a good deal for our friends who worked there too.

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With the introduction of WEM we are moving towards a new management paradigm where applications are the driving force for end user computing. Combined with AppVolumes, Immidio’s light weight and highly agile approach to user environment management addresses a major gap in many of today’s application deployment solutions. By bringing instantaneous user, location and device contextual awareness to application deployment, enterprises will be able to use one solution for any device. And yes, even for logons to multiple Windows desktops. This expands UEM to be event driven at the O/S, application and user layer.

Ultimately this is an evolution towards providing users what they really want - Apps & Content - while reducing the cost to get there.

Disclosure : I am currently the product manager for AppVolumes at VMWare