As you may have read this morning, there was an announcement that VMware will purchase AirWatch (@AirWatch on Twitter – http://www.air-watch.com), a mobile device security firm. With this move, there is a fairly clear message being sent that VMware is fully embracing workforce mobility from every angle.
This wasn’t the first move
A few people were surprised by this move. It is understandable, since VMware is most well known for their datacenter virtualization products as their core business. That being said, they have been dabbling in a number of areas in workforce mobility with the powerful shift to enhance the VMware Horizon suite of tools.
If you’ve followed what they have been doing lately, you would have seen that there was an exciting announcement of the acquisition of two previous Citrix executives to join the leadership team in the VMware End User Computing business (http://gigaom.com/2014/01/06/vmware-poaches-top-citrix-desktop-virtualization-talent-it-just-got-real-in-here/).
Only just recently we also saw the move to bring Kit Colbert (@KitColbert) into the CTO role in the End User Computing division which was great news to see Kit come over into this exciting role.
The cost of doing business…
With the purchase of network virtualization leader Nicira in 2012 for 1.05 billion dollars in cash, plus 210 million dollars in unvested stock, was regarded as a high priced acquisition by some. The advantages of the integration may not have been fully realized yet, but there is a paradigm shift in the industry which VMware has positioned itself to help to lead as a result of this merger.
Today, VMware announced their intent to buy AirWatch for 1.17 billion dollars in cash and 365 million dollars in unvested stock. So, it seems that the price tag of 1 billion dollars isn’t a barrier when the long term vision is to leap forward in the marketplace.
A long and winding road
If you’ve been along for the ride with VMware in their desktop virtualization, we saw a few hits and misses. There was the ever famous Project Octopus which captured our hearts at VMworld in 2011, but faded away until the introduction of VMware Horizon Data which has become the effective replacement.
I was a long time advocate for the use of VMware Update Manager which allowed me to deploy patches to isolated machines and offline VMs for Microsoft patches and other core applications; all with a simple workflow, and it was able to be scheduled. That feature set was shelved as VMware 5 became their focus and Update Manager reverted to a hypervisor patch management tool.
Hello Shavlik; Goodbye Shavlik
In one of the not quite surprising U-turns, VMware purchased Shavlik in the middle of 2011 which seemed to myself and some as the potential way to re-introduce the lost features in VMware Update Manager. Unfortunately, the fruits of that integration never came to be, and in May of 2013 Shavlik was sold to LANDesk.
A lot of people (including the executive team at VMware obviously) weren’t nearly as excited about desktop patching as I was (sigh!), but with LANDesk, SCCM, and many alternatives out there I suppose I can’t blame them for seeing it as a distraction. The core goal is to manage the way the desktop is provisioned, and then managing it with industry standard tools is just an extension of current infrastructure for most organizations.
Setting the “tone” (yes, that’s a shameless Desktone pun)
In August of 2013 the DaaS (Desktop-as-a-Service) pioneers Desktone became the next desktop-focused move which gave a strong hand in cloud desktop virtualization. So you can see that this trend in the growth of VMware as an End User Computing magnate is far beyond them dipping their toes in the water at this point.
It was no coincidence that Amazon Workspaces was announced in November 2013 at their AWS re:invent conference. That in itself is a nod to the direction that the industry sees desktop platforms shifting.
Back to our story: Welcome aboard AirWatch!
I am excited to see that VMware has taken the smart step in leveraging the great product and R&D work that has been done by AirWatch to date. Widening the workforce mobility portfolio to include MDM (Mobile Device Management) will be a great add-on to the VMware Horizon suite for mobile platforms.
As we see Blackberry suffering against its competitors where it once dominated the MDM marketplace, the blood is in the enterprise MDM waters. With the growing pool of engineering talent at VMware, combined with team at AirWatch, we have great potential growing to make a serious mark in the mobile space.
Congratulations to VMware and AirWatch, and we look forward to seeing the evolution of the new vMDM*
* I made this acronym up, but it seems like a good fit 🙂