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VMware Adds Windows 10 Management and Privacy to AirWatch

At VMworld earlier this month, VMware promised support for Windows 10 and today the company explained how. The company's AirWatch business unit will add Windows 10 configuration and management to its namesake enterprise mobility management suite. The added Windows 10 support is among a number of announcements made at the annual AirWatch Connect conference, which kicked off today in Atlanta.

It's not unusual that VMware would be supporting Windows 10 mobile device configuration and management by updating the AirWatch EMM suite. What did gain notice back at VMworld in San Francisco three weeks ago was how closely the two companies have worked in the background to enable that support. Aside from their longstanding heated rivalry on the systems virtualization front, Microsoft last year decided to jump into the crowded market for enterprise mobility management software by adding its own Enterprise Mobility Suite, which includes Intune, Azure Active Directory and Azure Rights Management. Microsoft now identifies EMS as a $1 billion market opportunity. Microsoft's entry was a direct attack on AirWatch, which VMware snapped up two years ago for $1.6 billion, its largest acquisition to date. VMware has responded in kind by launching its own single sign-on tool, VMware Identity Manager, which in June was added to its higher end AirWatch editions, and was announced at VMworld as a standalone offering, taking on Azure Active Directory.

Despite going at each other -- again not unusual for the two companies -- Microsoft is helping VMware make AirWatch more competitive. "In order to address modern security threats, it's critical [that] hardware and software be designed to work together in tight partnership," said Windows Enterprise Executive Jim Alkove, on stage at VMworld during the keynote session joining Sanjay Poonen, general manager and executive vice president for end-user computing at VMware. "We love Windows 10 because you've opened up Windows 10 for an enterprise mobile management player like AirWatch," Poonen told Alkove.

At today's AirWatch Connect, the company outlined how the EMM suite will support Windows 10. Perhaps most noteworthy, and putting more clarity on why Microsoft is helping AirWatch to the extent it is, is that AirWatch will enable the onboarding of Windows 10 devices thanks to integration with Azure Active Directory. According to AirWatch, using Azure AD join, organizations can allow individual users to enroll enterprise- and employee-owned Windows devices on their own without needing an administrator. The new Windows 10 support in AirWatch includes the ability to bulk-provision a system without having to reimage it. Both Win32 and Windows Universal Apps are supported, while device management policies can be implemented to ensure secure access to enterprise resources. Such policies include, among others, native e-mail configuration, per-app VPN connectivity and security setting enforcement, the company said.

Besides Windows 10 support, also coming to AirWatch are new privacy controls, aimed at providing transparency and consistency for both IT administrators and employees using their own devices to access corporate information systems and services. The company is adding the AirWatch Privacy First Program that provides transparency to individual users so they know what an IT administrator can see, access and change on their device.

At the same time, it ensures if data or an application on an employee-owned device can introduce a problem to the enterprise applications or data, then that the organization's app and information is removed. Likewise, it ensures there's no potential for data leakage from the employee device. "One of the key areas here is to allow us to maintain security on the devices but do so in a way that doesn't infringe on a user's privacy," said Noah Wasmer, VMware's vice president of product management and CTO for end-user computing.

The new AirWatch Privacy First features will be available next quarter. The Windows 10 support is available now.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 09/22/2015 at 12:08 PM


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