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AirWatch Gets Its Own Windows 10 Upgrade

VMware's enterprise mobility management suite will integrate with Azure Active Directory.

Windows 10 is off to a fast start, getting positive press and quick adoption from the public. Support for it, therefore, should be coming just as quickly from major vendors. And that's happening in the case of AirWatch, VMware's enterprise mobility management suite.

AirWatch will add Windows 10 configuration and management, VMware announced at its AirWatch Connect conference, which kicked off this week in Atlanta.

It was expected that VMware would add Windows 10 mobile device configuration and management to the AirWatch EMM suite. What was less expected, perhaps, was how closely the two companies have worked in the background to enable that support, given their increasing encroachment into the each others' space.

A Huge Market
Aside from their longstanding 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.

The company's entry was a direct attack on AirWatch, which VMware snapped up two years ago for $1.6 billion, marking the company's 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 during a keynote presentation at VMworld 2015 earlier this month.

Alkove was joined by 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.

Azure AD Join
At 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.

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 email 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.

Secure and Private
At the same time, if data or an application on an employee-owned device can introduce a problem to the enterprise applications or data, it ensures that the organization's app and information is removed. It also safeguards against potential 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. Windows 10 support is available now.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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