Now that Horizon 6 has been announced, the AirWatch acquisition has gone through, and we’re no longer questioning VMware’s commitment to end-user computing, the next question is what VMware will do to integrate AirWatch and Horizon?
Today the two products are separate. You’ve got Horizon which combines VDI, RDSH, published apps, Windows desktop layers, and SaaS apps all via a web portal. And then you’ve got AirWatch which is used to managed mobile devices and apps using MDM and MAM technologies.
But what could VMware do to combine these? There are a couple different scenarios to consider:
- AirWatch Secure Content Locker replacing Horizon Data.
- Different options for combining AirWatch and Horizon Workspace
- Using AirWatch technology to manage hypervisors and layers in corporate desktops
Let’s take a look at each one of these.
Secure Content Locker
VMware told us that existing Horizon Data customers are being moved onto AirWatch Secure Content Locker. This is great news since frankly there was a lot missing from Horizon Data and Secure Content Locker is a superior product.
Both products aim to fulfill the “secure Dropbox for the enterprise” need by syncing corporate data to desktops and managed mobile clients. However, one of the biggest complaints with Horizon Data was that the backend file storage was restricted to its own “all-or-nothing” silo.
On the other hand, AirWatch Secure Content Locker can connected to external cloud storage providers as well as existing SharePoint, WebDAV, and network file servers, and it can handle multiple locations and mixed environments. On the client side, Secure Content Locker has a lot of mobile app management policies and integrated Office document editing and PDF annotation.
AirWatch/Horizon Workspace integration
It would be great if Horizon Workspace and AirWatch Secure Content Locker were integrated so that users could get a data-centric view of their workspace and see all their files, in addition to the app-centric view. This is how Horizon Workspace worked in earlier versions, but with Horizon Data going away, VMware will have to update Workspace to include files from Secure Content Locker.
The next step would be to make Horizon Workspace aware of other native mobile apps, which could be provision and managed by AirWatch. Users could have their lists of files and then be sent directly to other native mobile apps (as an alternative to published remote apps, desktops, and web apps) based on file type associations and other policies.
This could be great once it’s all put together, because it would finally be the complete workspace aggregation vision that VMware has been talking about for years.
During yesterday’s Horizon 6 announcement event, Sumit Dhawan also mentioned the idea of managed containers on laptops. While we don’t know exactly what this means, we can imagine using AirWatch to manage Windows desktop and application containers based on Mirage. So think of all the “typical” MDM-type stuff that AirWatch does today: remote wiping, enabling and disabling features based on location, authentication, VPN, configuration, etc.
Now think about all the different ways that VMware manages containers and endpoints today. They have AirWatch for iOS and Android, Fusion Pro for Mac users, Mirage for Windows (which can be native, Windows on Windows, or Windows on Mac)—plus probably more that I’m forgetting—and you see there are a bunch of different ways of doing things depending on the device platform and what you’re delivering.
What if VMware cleaned all that up and used the AirWatch framework as the single way to manage containers, regardless of what “type” of container it was (Mirage layer, ThinApp, mobile app, etc.) and regardless of what type of client it was (Mac, Windows, iOS, Android)? There’s a lot of potential there.