VMware's AirWatch 8.3 bets big on convergence and security

VMware recently released the latest version of its enterprise mobility management tool, AirWatch. Here are the features that could impact your business.

Image: iStockphoto/Ridofranz

On Wednesday, VMware released the latest version of its AirWatch enterprise mobility management (EMM) platform, AirWatch 8.3, with a heavy focus on security and improved workflow.

This newest release of AirWatch contains support for the recently-announced Workspace ONE platform, which provides a singular app catalog across web and mobile, as well as identity management and SSO features. AirWatch 8.3 also broadens the AirWatch Privacy First program, brings a redesigned content locker, and a few new features.

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The AirWatch Privacy First Program is an initiative the company started to bring privacy education to their enterprise customers. The latest AirWatch release extends the program in a few key ways.

First, VMware has launched a new user-facing website called WhatIsAirWatch.com and a new app focused on user privacy. The site explains to users how the different apps (Agent, Browser, Catalog, Content, Inbox) work, and what the potential value of BYOD is for their organization. It also seeks to answer questions users may have about what data their IT department can, or cannot see, and how their work data is used.

Additionally, a new role of Privacy Officer is now available in the AirWatch administrator console. The role is focused on management of privacy policies and serves as an additional layer to check changes proposed by IT admins. It will be interesting to see if this new role helps sway certain businesses or departments to engage with BYOD.

The redesigned content locker.
Image: VMware

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The newly redesigned AirWatch 8.3 Content Locker will be available for iOS, but there was no mention of Android availability in the initial press release. For those unfamiliar, the locker stores and aggregates content securely across multiple storage repositories. Its updates were mostly dealing with UI, including enhanced navigation.

Also making their debut with AirWatch 8.3 are industry templates, which are intelligent workflow tools that "recommend the best iOS apps, configurations and policies for their business initiatives," according to the press release.

Usinging VMware Identity Manage, AirWatch 8.3 gives admins the ability to determine conditional access for any available application with no additional coding, or the use of an SDK, required. AirWatch 8.3 is also getting deeper integration with NSX, to up the security between the NSX data center and an AirWatch device by allowing admins to set policies between the two from a single console.

The AirWatch announcement, especially regarding the deep connection with Workspace ONE, is not surprising given VMware's push to hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) and the software-defined data center (SDDC) with announcements like the VCE VxRail appliance and VSAN 6.2. If VMware can make a successful go at providing a one-stop shop for enterprise infrastructure needs, why wouldn't they try to do the same in the budding enterprise mobility market?

AirWatch 8.3 will be publicly available sometime in Q1 2016.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. VMware announced AirWatch 8.3, with a focus on security and integration with its Workspace ONE platform. The push toward converging all their mobile efforts under one umbrella could help make them a one-stop shop for enterprise mobility.
  2. AirWatch 8.3 brings an educational website called WhatIsAirWatch.com, and a new app focused on privacy. These tools could help IT leaders with onboarding new users, assuaging fears, or convincing business leaders to invest in the solution.
  3. The AirWatch admin console now has a Privacy Officer role, focused on privacy policy management. This could provide a way to bring in an HR employee, or other leader, to check IT proposals on behalf of employees before approval.

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