VMware is announcing AirWatch 8.3 today, and the main themes are single sign-on and user privacy.
In fact we already learned about many of the AirWatch 8.3 features last week from the VMware Workspace One announcement—This includes VMware Identity Manager updates; the new unified app catalogue for mobile, web, and virtual apps; conditional access improvements; and a better SSO experiences through the new secure app token system (or SATS).
So today might seem like it’s an extension of last week, and indeed it shows just how much AirWatch and VMware’s other EUC products are converging under Workspace One. (Also note that recently VMware has switched from calling AirWatch “AirWatch by VMware” to “VMware AirWatch.”)
But of course there are plenty of core mobility features to highlight, and now is the time to do that. Mobile World Congress is next week, and as usual AirWatch will have a big presence.
AirWatch launched their user privacy education efforts at Connect last fall, but AirWatch 8.3 takes it much farther:
- Users can access an app on their device that can tell them exactly what IT administrators can and can’t see and explain what AirWatch is actually enabling them to do (i.e. access work stuff from their mobile devices, get SSO, etc.)
- AirWatch is launching WhatIsAirWatch.com, a new educational website.
- There’s a new Privacy Officer administrative role in the AirWatch console, which can have oversight and control over all privacy-related policies and tasks. The idea is that a company could give this role to someone in HR, and any changes or actions that normal IT administrators make that could affect privacy must be approved by this role.
This shows goes to show that privacy is a big deal. (Not to mention the fact that enrolling personal devices in MDM is still frequently debated.) The App Configuration for Enterprise effort, as well as device-level app management, built-in email client security, and smoother single sign-on all depend on MDM, so AirWatch definitely wants to make it as palatable as possible. It will be interesting to see if these new efforts—especially the Privacy Officer role—open up more users to BYOD. (I'm just thinking out loud here, but I'm picturing a union requesting to have their own privacy officer in AirWatch, or something like that.)
AirWatch 8.3 is also introducing new industry configuration templates. The templates come in the form of a wizard in the AirWatch console, and they can specify recommended apps, app settings, device settings, and device compliance policies for different industries and end-user roles. They’re starting out with five industries (healthcare, education, hospitality, retail, and field service) with several roles for each. The recommendations are based on anonymous data aggregated from AirWatch customers and compliance rules like Sarbanes-Oxley or HIPAA; plus systems integrators will be able to make own templates, too. These sound really useful, and while they’re only available to customers for now, it would be great if they would become a community asset.
The last things to mention in today’s announcement are a new UI for the Content Locker app and more automation between AirWatch and NSX. AirWatch 8.3 will be released this quarter.