AirWatch Local Event Review
A bit dated I know, but on 10th December my wanderlust took me to Milton Keynes, the home of concrete cows and the National Bowl. As an aside, I have mixed feelings about the place – saw the Foo Fighters there in 2011 and had one of the best days of my life but then I paid £7 for fish and chips at the same event, which frankly brought me out in a cold sweat. They weren’t even that good!
Anyway, I digress. The purpose of me attending this event was to get a much better idea of what the AirWatch suite of products is all about. Obviously I’m primarily a Horizon View and EUC guy and now that VMware have acquired AirWatch, there is an obvious overlap between the two technologies. In point of fact, some of the AirWatch solution is now bundled in the Horizon Suite. The event itself was for both partners and end users, and looking at the name tags there was quite a decent spread of industries represented, from partners to local government, education, legal and emergency services.
The day was hosted by Dave Horton of AirWatch and basically took the form of a single presenter with multiple different focuses throughout the day, which was slightly unusual but seemed to work pretty well and there was a good flow to proceedings. I’d assumed beforehand that AirWatch was simply another MDM solution, but as it turned out I couldn’t have been further from the facts. Each section I broke down below.
As at 2014, the company has 14,000 customers worldwide which represents growth of 8,000 from two years ago when the figure was 6,000 customers. The interesting thing about AirWatch as a suite of products is that not only is it the market leader, but it is in the top right corner of the Gartner Magic Quadrant. I take some industry analyst information with a grain of salt, but I know these sorts of facts hold a lot of influence with C-level decision makers, so this is an important differential for AirWatch to have.
What struck me about the customer breakdown was the breadth of industries where the AirWatch solution was present. As a snapshot, see below:-
- 4 out of 5 Fortune 500 companies
- 6 out of 10 top airlines
- 3 out of 5 top ranked universities
- 2 out of 3 worldwide hotel groups
So as you can see from above, the solution doesn’t just fit well in one vertical but across many, and I thought this pretty impressive. 17 languages are supported, from support through to the software interfaces themselves and technical support. Product development is primarily centred on Atlanta but there is also a development centre in Bangalore. There is a strong presence in the UK out of the Milton Keynes office which hosts technical support, sales, Professional Services and marketing.
AirWatch was acquired by VMware for $1.5bn, which I think the presenter said was the same worth as YouTube when that was bought. Take that, fact fans!
AirWatch 7.3 Release Highlights
Dave then went over what is new in version 7.3 of the product, which I think he said has been available for around three months now. It’s easier to break this down into bullet points, see below:-
- QNX Agent support – this is at a fairly early stage but QNX is Linux based and forms the basis for BlackBerry 10 OS. It is also used in an increasing number of things such as cars and also appliances (Internet of Things, etc)
- It is now possible to create a temporary administrator account for troubleshooting
- Smart Groups can be created to exclude users from profile assignments (less restrictive for VIPs, for example)
- Profiles now have version control
- Compliance rules can be applied per platform (iOS, Android, WinPho etc.)
- There is a self service portal where a user can self register a device into AirWatch, thus reducing impact on the Service Desk
- Android is not easy to develop to, as there are up to 16,000 variants of the code out there on devices
- Samsung SAFE and KNOX are now supported
- Amazon Fire devices, HTC devices now fully supported with silent application install and uninstall prevention
- OSX AirWatch AppCatalog now supported and the Apple Device Enrolment Program is also supported, iOS can be pre-locked when shipped
- Windows 8.1 now has MDM APIs and a VMware Fusion profile
- Windows 8.1 has remote lock, enablement of Metro applications without a Live ID, agent compliance with Windows Updates, BitLocker enforcement and Firewall status
- Rugged Android and Windows Mobile support
- Mobile Application Management has application wrapping, Volume Purchasing Program renewable sTokens. Integration with Horizon Workspace
- AirWatch Inbox application now optimised for iPad with 1 click conference call
- AirWatch Tunnel provides SSL-VPN on iOS
- AirWatch agent can tell if a device has been rooted or jailbroken, if the device has been compromised a remote wipe can be performed
- Secure Content Locker can whitelist/blacklist file types and creation of secure content on mobile application is now supported. Possible to set policy to require uploads to be backed up to corporate storage
- Geofencing uses GPS to tie profiles to physical locations, though this is not as feature complete as NPS
- App wrapping now supports single sign on
- Applications flagged as corporate and managed by AirWatch will be deleted by Enterprise Wipe even if it is a public applications from iTunes etc.
- URLs can be transparently redirected to use SSL-VPN
- Configuration management of laptops can provide the following features:-
- Connections to wi-fi, VPN, Ethernet etc.
- OWA and Outlook accounts
- Proxy settings
- Software distribution over the air
- Automated workflows for installation
- Asset tracking can provide the following features:-
- Detailed laptop and end user inventory
- Export reports and logs from the AW console
- Enterprise wipe removes applications and it’s data because the app has a sandbox – other data is left intact (including personal data)
- AirWatch Inbox and browser currently available on Windows only
- In the profile wizard, hover over the platform with the pointer to see what policies can be enforced (wi-fi, FDE, etc)
- Device or user profiles can be used
- BitLocker keys can be stored in AirWatch
- Full Disk Encryption for personal and/or corporate applications on OSX
- Android Secure Launcher features:-
- Highly restricted
- Drag and drop icons onto simulated screens in management console to simulate the end user experience
- Add wallpaper, folders, app icons etc to the start screen
- Device restart always restarts on secure launcher
Windows Phone 8.1
- Blacklist applications by vendor, i.e. Rovio
- Disable Store option
- Lock wi-fi settings
- Silent install and update
- Android Workspace is classed as managed which is not as featured as MDM managed but is a better option for BYOD use cases as opposed to corporate devices
- Analytics, so which applications are used and when and for how long, web browser which sites are visited and for how long etc
- Workspace provides “dual persona” mode for personal devices, so corporate information can be wiped leaving personal data intact
- Dynamic watermarks can be added – can see who may have leaked corporate documents. Fully customisable.
- Set effective expiration date for documents
- Content can be stored anywhere:-
- AirWatch Cloud
- Office 365
- Google Docs
- Amazon S3
- SharePoint on premises
- Hybrid solutions
- Network share
- Documents stored in Secure Content Locker can be edited, annotated and add comment tags, also has activity feed
- New in 7.3 is creation of documents in SCL
- Report on content statistics – expiring content/missing devices etc
- SCL can be used with MDM, Workplace or standalone mode
- SCL is HTML5 so drag and drop files and multiple file selection is available
- 36 repositories available – anything that supports the CMIS standard is supported
- Use the Mobile Access Gateway (MAG) when services are not public facing
- SCL sync client for Windows and Mac OSX like DropBox with automatic synchronisation
- Share documents on SCL with external users, password protection provided
- AirWatch MarketPlace has partner solutions that integrate with AirWatch
- Real time chat collaboration with audit compliance and encryption like BBM. Integration with Lync is on the roadmap
The main takeaway from this event was that AirWatch is far more than just mobile device management. I went there with a pre-conceived idea that it was basically for management of iOS and Android devices, but it’s a whole lot more. I know that we are getting good traction at ANS around Secure Content Locker, as many customers want “Enterprise Grade DropBox”. It was interesting to see how consumer electronics have bled features and expectation into the usually highly management and slow to react corporate environment.
The other thing I was very impressed with was the management interface for AirWatch. It was very slick and very well designed, and the workflows seemed very intuitive. Obviously a demo only shows you so much, but I hope to get much more hands on in 2015 with the product suite, it’s easy to see why it is the market leader and well regarded by industry analysts. It can cover a wide spread of use cases and platforms and has excellent integrations into other platforms which may already be in customer use. I also liked the way that the issue of preserving corporate data and ring fencing personal data on non corporate devices has been addressed in this release.
Apologies for the poo pictures – the perfect storm of a camera phone and the projector not being too bright!