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VMware's AirWatch Gets Security, Workflow Updates

Integration with Workspace ONE, NSX highlight the release.

Last week, VMware introduced Workspace ONE, a new mobile computing platform allowing end users to access any app on any device. Workspace ONE was built on three primary supports: AirWatch, Horizon and Identity Manager. Today, VMware announced an update to one of the those core products, AirWatch, which further integrates it with Workspace ONE as well as adding new features.

AirWatch VP of Product Marketing Blake Brannon blogged about the release of AirWatch 8.3. AirWatch is VMware's mobile device management (MDM) product, and has been growing steadily since VMware bought AirWatch two years ago for $1.54 billion. Since then, it's been one of VMware's top performers.

Security
Two upgrades in version 8.3 stand out: security and workflow management. On the security side, AirWatch will provide an authentication module that provides conditional access to applications in the app store, while allowing administrators the ability to remotely revoke access and wipe devices that run afoul of corporate policies. It happens "…with no SDK, app wrapping or code changes required," Brannon writes.

Access to internal servers is also addressed with the update. For datacenters using NSX, VMware's software-defined networking (SDN) technology, AirWatch provides admins the ability to limit mobile apps, data and devices when they're inside the corporate firewall.

This is done by setting up Security Groups. These groups -- a VMware video shows Sales, Finance and SharePoint as example groups -- have access to certain apps but not others. A Security Group contains one or more firewall rules that allow access to datacenter endpoints. A member of the Finance Group may get access to one application, say a particular browser, to which a member of the Sales Group won't have access. It's done through NSX's ability to micro-segment the datacenter.

Workflow
On the workflow side, AirWatch 8.3 introduces "industry templates," which step admins through the process of setting up models for certain industries. "The new industry templates provide a turnkey way to enable the best apps, configurations and policies for business initiatives," Brannon blogged.

To start, an admin selects an industry and the template takes them through a typical workflow. The initial industries included are healthcare, education, hospitality, retail and field services (note that two new industry templates are included on a separate page: government and finance. This leads to the presumption that new templates will be released regularly). The wizard then recommends apps and policies, chosen through feedback from the various industries as the tasks and apps most often used. The admin then assigns the template to users and configures it with a single click.

Building Trust
Another interesting addition in AirWatch 8.3 is a new Web site, WhatIsAirWatch.com. It basically informs users that admins with access to corporate apps on a private device won't be snooping around in areas that aren't any of its business, "…such as texts, personal emails, photos and more," according to a VMware press release. The idea is to promote trust between end users and IT, since a primary focus of AirWatch, and Workspace ONE in general, is BYOD usage. It's part of the AirWatch Privacy First Program and its goal of building trust.

AirWatch 8.3, which is sold separately as well as being part of Workspace ONE, will be available in Q1 of this year, VMware says.

About the Author

Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Virtualization & Cloud Review. Follow him on Twitter @VirtReviewKeith.

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