VMware bids to bust out of servers and onto Windows desktops

AirWatch tweaked to manage Win10

VMworld 2015 VMware's trying to put itself into the Windows desktop management business with its AirWatch mobile device management and identity management products.

AirWatch is best known as a way to manage and deploy apps to mobile devices, based on user profiles that determine what users are allowed to run and/or the resources they are allowed to access. At VMworld 2015 today, VMware demonstrated a project called A2 that allows AirWatch to do the same for Windows 10 desktops.

A2 isn't entirely new: one part of it is VMware App Volumes, a tool for spawning apps onto devices, which VMware acquired with a company called CloudVolumes in 2014. Another piece is VMware Identity Management.

AirWatch has also been able to manage desktops for a while, but the business unit hasn't spent much time talking about it or trying to do so on Windows.

That's now changed because Microsoft has added APIs to Windows 10 to make it more easily managed, as part of Redmond's efforts to make Windows 10 behave consistently across devices. Because Microsoft hopes business will adopt Windows 10 on smartphones and tablets, and because those devices so obviously need management because they are often employee-owned and can be left in the back of a taxi, the same management hooks for Windows 10 on mobile devices made it into desktop Windows 10.

VMware's grasped those hooks, and the result was a short demo in which a Windows 10 user logged-on to a BYOD laptop with their work email address, an event that saw their employer's preferred suite of apps deployed to the Windows 10 desktop at impressive speed.

A2 is a preview and there's no word on when it will arrive in saleable form. When it does, it may find a fertile reception: the VMworld crowd drew breath appreciatively during the demo today.

Sanjay Poonen, VMware's leader for all things end-user computing, later said A2 is significant for VMware because the company knows that not every business will run desktop virtualisation and even those who do rarely go all-in.

But just about every organisation runs desktops and will make it to Windows 10 eventually. And just about every organisation is also investigating mobility, either with owned or BYOD devices. A2 is therefore kind of a big deal for VMware because it puts the company into play on the world's PCs as well as mobile devices and the world's servers.

The idea is that all good things VMware did to physical servers, it now aspires to do to physical desktops, starting with role-based app delivery.

For a company that's still looking for a second tent-pole to erect a big new business to stand alongside server virtualisation, A2 is therefore rather significant. ®

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