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VMware Announces Azure AD Identity Manager Alternative

VMware announced a new service that looks to go head-to-head with Azure Active Directory (AD) for enterprise single sign-on at this week's VMworld, currently going on in San Francisco.

The company introduced a new iteration of the VMware Identity Management offering, which was first launched in June, that aims to give it broader reach. Identity Management was previously only available for premium AirWatch customers of either the Yellow or Blue editions.

VMware describes its new VMware Identity Manager Advanced Edition as a standalone Identity Management-as-a-Service (IMaaS) offering that can support major device types including Windows PCs, Chromebooks and Apple Macs.

"What's interesting about this new standalone edition is that we include still elements of the AirWatch console to make good on this concept of adaptive access," said Kevin Strohmeyer, director of product marketing for Workspace Services and End-User Computing, in an interview at VMworld. "What really differentiates our strategy is by having these device-specific adapters, the ability to register a mobile device or even a Windows 10 device that allows us to basically have customized authentication flows that are specific for that operating system."

Strohmeyer said he believes VMware Identity Manager handles federation and management of user identities better than Azure AD and is easier to bridge to legacy and Software-as-a-Service-based applications. In addition to addressing the problem of federated identity management, Strohmeyer said the new VMware offering lets administrators manage security groups.

The challenge for VMware, however, is that the market for federated identity management tools is crowded, and the company is considered new to the arms race. "A lot of customers have integration to Active Directory as the primary source of their identity management," said IDC analyst Al Gillen. "So for VMware to be trying to drive their own directory strategy outside of that seems a little bit like fighting an old battle that's already won. But they seem pretty committed to it."

Indeed in a VMware press conference, CEO Pat Gellsinger claimed that customers have been pushing the company to add IMaaS to its offerings. "We're getting such good response from the industry and from our customers in making that a standard part of our suite," Gelsinger said. "We are very optimistic about the potential for that as yet another element of what we're presenting to our customers."

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 09/02/2015 at 11:56 AM


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