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Take a closer look at what's in VMware Workspace One

After Citrix released a cloud-based management platform in 2015, VMware answered with Workspace One, which combines enterprise mobility management, user authentication and a virtual desktop platform.

VMware Workspace One provides users with easier remote access to their corporate resources and provides IT with more holistic management.

Many employees are no longer tied to a computer on a desk to get work done, and most workers limited to using a physical PC appreciate the flexibility to work remotely. VMware Workspace One combines the company's AirWatch enterprise mobility management offering, Identity Manager and a new edition of its Horizon Air cloud-based desktop platform to enable the remote access capabilities many users want from their workplace. Workspace One's combination of device management, authentication and an enterprise application store provides security while also delivering the type of consumer mobile experience users now expect from their smartphones and tablets.

What's unique about Workspace One?

Workspace One is VMware's answer to Citrix's Workspace Cloud unified cloud-based management product and is the successor to VMware Workspace Suite. The main difference is that Workspace Suite includes the company's Horizon VDI platform, whereas Workspace One uses Horizon Air Hybrid-Mode, which VMware unveiled in February 2016 as the end result of Project Enzo. 

Horizon Air Hybrid-Mode supports cloud-based desktops and apps or on-premises infrastructure that connects to Horizon's cloud-based management console through a hardware component named the Horizon Air Node. IT installs the Horizon Air Node -- which includes either VMware Virtual SAN technology or other approved hyper-converged infrastructure -- in its own data center. The payoff is that the company gains cloud scalability while keeping its data securely on-premises.

The AirWatch-Identity Manager marriage

The two previously existing products in VMware Workspace One are AirWatch and Identity Manager, which was named Horizon Workspace and Horizon Application Manager in previous iterations. AirWatch empowers IT to manage devices outside the corporate network, and Identity Manager offers unified authentication and access to applications inside the firewall and over the internet. Together they provide a comprehensive tool for securely delivering applications to mobile devices.

VMware says administrators can add Workspace One to their existing AirWatch and Identity Manager deployment. This is important because, at present, Workspace One does not support Windows or Mac PCs, nor the wide range of other mobile devices compatible with AirWatch and Identity Manager.

Not long after VMware acquired AirWatch in March 2014, I was involved in a project using AirWatch and Horizon Workspace (now Identity Manager). Workspace One adds the integration between those two products that I would have liked available for that project. The ability to keep virtual desktops, apps and data on-premises, but control access from the cloud will suit organizations with restrictive security policies that would normally shy away from a cloud-based platform. 

Users gain access, IT gets control

A central theme with VMware Workspace One is flexible self-service. Employees can use Workspace One without filing help desk tickets and waiting for IT to provision their devices. Workspace One includes multi-device management and supports Apple iOS and Google Android mobile devices, smartphones or tablets.

If the employee owns his own device, then he can simply install the Workspace One application and gain access to his corporate resources, which will be separate from the privately-owned device. If the device belongs to the company, then IT can enroll the device with Workspace One and use all the management features included in AirWatch. IT can control which device functions employees can use and choose which applications to install at enrollment. Admins can also prevent the installation of specific, or all, applications from the device's native app store.

A central theme with VMware Workspace One is flexible self-service.

Workspace One provides single sign-on access to Web and native applications and virtual desktops. There is even a per-application VPN to access resources inside the corporate firewall without opening the corporate network up to every application on the device.

An important part of this self-service access is that Workspace One provides a unified catalog of that employee's work resources. The catalog includes Windows and Citrix apps, plus Web applications -- either running inside the corporate network or external software as a service apps, such as Salesforce or SAP. A customized portal allows users to select the applications they want on their launcher screen.

Workspace One is comparable to Citrix's more expensive Workspace Cloud offering, so companies that don't have a preference between the two vendors might be better off going with the more affordable option. Altogether, VMware Workspace One provides self-service remote access to users and gives IT the unified management capabilities so many organizations are looking for nowadays.

Next Steps

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