VMworld is next week: Get up to speed on VMware/AirWatch integration & look at what’s coming next.

It's hard to believe that VMworld next week will only be the second one since VMware acquired AirWatch back in January 2014. Now is a good time to look at the status of the VMware/AirWatch integration and talk about what we can expect for next week.

It’s hard to believe that VMworld next week will only be the second one since VMware acquired AirWatch back in January 2014. Now is a good time to look at the status of the VMware/AirWatch integration and talk about what we can expect for next week.

How did we get here?

The products that we really care about are VMware Workspace Suite and VMware Identity Manager. To really understand them, however, we actually have to go back quite a ways. (I didn’t mean for this article to be a history lesson, but once I started trying to give some background information, it was hard to avoid. Plus there were a lot of different name changes over the years, so it helps to avoid confusion.)

For a long time, the vision in the EUC, desktop virtualization, and mobile space has been to provide a way to combine access to all types of apps (desktop, native mobile, web/SaaS) together into a single workspace and management concept (with app catalogues, SSO/identity federation, automatic provisioning, Active Directory integration, policy controls, and so on).

VMware showed their first take on this concept with the announcement of Project Horizon at VMworld 2010. This was subsequently released as Horizon App Manager in May 2011.

At VMworld 2012, VMware announced Horizon Suite, which included Horizon App Manager (renamed to Horizon Workspace), VMware View, Mirage, and the Horizon Mobile products. Horizon Suite was released in February 2013.

The mobile components of Horizon Suite included the Android Mobile Virtualization Platform, Horizon Data (file sync and share), an Android email client, and two never-released plans for mobile app management on iOS. I could go on, but all you need to know is that none of these ever really went anywhere, and for a few years the mobile part of VMware’s whole workspace vision was lacking.

Welcome AirWatch

VMware made up for its mobile shortcomings in January 2014 by acquiring AirWatch. We immediately saw the potential for completing the workspace concept, and so did VMware.

One of the first changes was that VMware Horizon Data was replaced with AirWatch Secure Content Locker.

Next, just to keep things straight, I should also mention that a few products got renamed when Horizon 6 was announced in April 2014. “Horizon” now only refers to desktop products, and so Horizon Workspace was renamed to Workspace Portal.

A year ago at VMworld 2014, VMware announced a new EUC suite, called Workspace Suite. It includes virtual desktops from Horizon 6, EMM from AirWatch, file sync and share from AirWatch Content Locker, and Workspace Portal.

Shortly after that at AirWatch Connect 2014, we learned that the AirWatch Catalogue app could provide access to desktops from VMware Horizon.

In April 2015, another integration point came when VMware announced that VMware NSX network micro-segmentation capabilities could work in conjunction with AirWatch.

Welcome VMware Identity Manager

One of the most significant integration points came this year in June with the announcement of VMware Identity Manager (a.k.a. vIDM), which is replacing Workspace Portal. (So if you’re following along at home, that’s Horizon App Manager —> Horizon Workspace —> Workspace Portal —> Identity Manager.)

vIDM is like Workspace Portal, except now it’s fully aware of AirWatch. You can set app access policies based on EMM and device status, and managed devices can be used as an authentication factor. vIDM also provides federated access to native mobile apps.

vIDM was released at the time of the announcement, and for now it’s a part of certain AirWatch license editions as well as VMware Workspace Suite. Workspace Portal is still available, but it will be replaced by vIDM in the future.

The vIDM client is delivered as an HTML5 app for desktops, and via the AirWatch Catalogue app for mobile devices. Since vIDM does identity federation, users can also take advantage of what’s known as “service provider-initiated login” to access many apps directly without going through the vIDM client.

What will happen at VMworld 2015?

Last year at VMworld 2014, besides announcing Workspace Suite we pretty much just got a basic introduction to AirWatch along with a bit of EMM 101.

This year looks like it should have a bit more mobile content. For the Day 2 keynote, VMware said “...a group of senior executives from various VMware business units will showcase how VMware is enabling applications to be delivered through business mobility with security from the device to the cloud.” I’m guessing we’ll hear a decent amount about AirWatch and about vIDM for those that missed the June announcement. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear about managing Windows 10, too.

Outside of the keynote, we’ll be looking to see how VMware is polishing up vIDM. Specifically I’ll be interest in:

  • How and when the transition from Workspace Portal to vIDM will take place.
  • What the client experience is like, and how consistent it is on different devices.
  • How easy or hard it is to provision all types of apps at once.
  • Seeing if there are any holes in the matrix of federation and accessing different types of apps on different types of devices.
  • Finding out if there are any plans to rationalize any of the various AirWatch and VMware apps.

Don’t forget that that AirWatch Connect is also coming up two weeks after VMworld. I expect that Connect will retain pretty much the same format over the next few years. There was a bit of a VMware presence last year, but it was mostly still an AirWatch show—and that’s the way it should be. Connect is a solid 1000+ person conference, and it’s great to have so many mobility people in one space. That same group would just get lost in the huge VMworld crowds.

At Connect we’ll get all the EMM announcements—new AirWatch apps, new ways of leveraging Android for Work, iOS 9, Windows 10, etc.

One thing that I’ll be looking for at both shows is for VMware and AirWatch to talk about their closer relationship with Apple, which has been teased a few times this summer.

If you’re at VMworld or Connect, see you there! And if not, come back here for more coverage. I hear Gabe is planning a VMworld desktop virtualization preview article for tomorrow.

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AirWatch is in Atlanta. VMware Horizon is in Palo Alto.


AirWatch has a CTO. VMWare Horizon has a CTO.


AirWatch has a GM. VMware Horizon has a GM.


They don't get along. There will be a unified powerpoint shown on Day2 at VMworld. No real integration coming out.


Class dismissed!


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Couldn't have been written better by VMware/Airwatch  :-)


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