Q&A: How Immidio buy boosts VMware workspace management

VMware's Harry Labana discusses plans to tie Immidio to App Volumes and vRealize for workspace management across physical, virtual and cloud desktops.

VMware's vision for a Workspace Environment Management suite that IT can use to manage apps across physical, virtual and cloud environments is closer to fruition with its acquisition of Immidio this week.

As previously reported by SearchVirtualDesktop.com, VMware has acquired user environment management (UEM) software provider Immidio for an undisclosed sum. Immidio's Flex+ UEM software works on physical, cloud and virtual desktops.

Immidio's UEM tool is just one component of an upcoming VMware Workspace Environment Management (WEM) suite, which will include application delivery and isolation, monitoring, user persona, and dynamic IT policies. Immidio adds personalization and dynamic policy to App Volumes and vRealize to fill out WEM. Together, these tools help IT produce, deliver and consume applications as a service across physical, virtual and cloud-based desktops, according to Harry Labana, VMware's VP Products for EUC.

Labana, an IT industry veteran who came to VMware by way of the CloudVolumes acquisition in August, explains why VMware chose Immidio over UEM players with more robust tools, how it will tie Immidio in with other VMware technologies and more.

VMware has acquired a number of end-user computing companies in recent years. Now it has a number of products. As someone tweeted this week -- "My God, what a management nightmare -- View, Wanova, App Volumes, RTO, Immidio -- just to manage a desktop?" What is your response to that?

Harry LabanaHarry Labana

Harry Labana: Let's deconstruct this. … How do people do it today? They have manual processes and they write scripts. Don’t blame us [that there are so many tools to manage desktops] -- blame Microsoft. It's like, if you want to eat burgers every day, you can, but you are going to get fat. We are giving you a really good diet pill here. …

It is a valid point that there are too many consoles and tools, and we agree. We are coming up with a more comprehensive strategy. … Companies have virtual, physical and cloud environments, all with different tools and processes and different groups of people to [manage] it all. People want to drive toward consistency.

The biggest pain point is around applications, how to deploy, how to update. Customers want to customize their apps, and they need UEM to do it. We want to reduce operational pain across all the environments. … We have all the assets, we will tie them and integrate them and launch pretty quickly. We will do console and workflow integrations. And the market will tell us what else to do.

We needed something simple and capable.

You say you will integrate and launch 'pretty quickly.' What do you consider a pretty quick timeline?

Labana: I won't know until I look under the covers. I will push aggressively. App Volumes took about three and a half months. We want to get it out to customers -- we want to sell it.

What exactly will Immidio's technology be tied in with?

Labana: It will be a core capability for our WEM. Right now, that is App Volumes, vRealize and Immidio. We have all the pieces, and the bundling will be worked out over time.

How will this acquisition help VMware compete with Citrix?

Labana: It is a strong enhancement for Horizon enterprise customers, and for Citrix customers, this will continue to add value for them too, the way App Volumes does. We will of course look for ways to optimize Immidio for VMware. In my view, we just want to solve customer problems. WEM adds value, and people might move to VMware to get a full experience from us. But I respect Citrix -- I am a former Citrixite.

Even though VMware will rebrand Immidio as its own, Citrix users will still be able to use Immidio software in their environment?

Labana: Yes.

I'm sure VMware's partners, such as Appsense, Liquidware Labs, and RES Software, aren't happy that they'll have to compete with VMware in the UEM space. What would you say to them?

Labana: I've spoken to many of them, and look, you have to continue to innovate. … There are customers who will continue to prefer to use our partners' products. We are not here to be destructive. We are here to build a workspace environment management. We will work with partners, and there will be overlap, but it is what it is.

What was it about Immidio that led you to buy them over someone like Norskale, Liquidware Labs, or even AppSense?

Labana: We needed something simple and capable. We spoke to their customers -- including pending large enterprise customers who told us they preferred Immidio.

If you go with a small company, the question of their scalability comes up, and their support. It all checked out and we said, wow, this is a hidden gem. They have built upon the Flex Profiles technology used by millions. This wasn’t hacked together -- it has a mature foundation that was extended. …

How many employees does Immidio have, and what will happen to them?

Labana: They have about 14 people, and we are working through a transition plan. They will become part of my team. We are going to be investing and growing the team. 

How many users does Immidio have, and what will happen to them, in terms of support?

Labana: They have about 500 customers, many of them large enterprises. They will continue to be supported by us; we will take on those contracts and grandfather them in for the term. … We aren't selling [Immidio] to new customers.

Is there anything else you want our readers to know?

Labana: The macro message is around business mobility. We think about it terms of value to the business, end users and the IT department. With IT, we are starting to say, what is mobile cloud architecture? How do we increase flexibility of the platform, and how do we increase security and management? For business, it's all about business process innovation. … How do we make employees more productive? Ultimately it comes down to the end user and supporting any app, [on] any device. It's about flexible delivery, unifying the experience and offering self-service. We are building toward the intersection of those three things.

Interview edited for length.

Bridget Botelho is senior news director for data center and end user computing media groups at TechTarget. Contact her at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetBotelho.

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