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VMware identity management adds SSO to AirWatch

VMware continues to integrate AirWatch with other parts of its business, and now Identity Manager ties it to vCloud Air and vRealize.

To help IT deliver application and data access to mobile users, a new VMware identity management product has emerged to compete directly with Microsoft.

VMware Identity Manager is for organizations seeking a single sign-on (SSO) application access designed for mobile but available across several VMware environments.

This isn't VMware's first foray into identity management, since it previously offered Horizon Application Manager for software as a service (SaaS) apps. Application Manager was rolled up into Horizon Workspace in 2013, a year before VMware purchased enterprise mobility management (EMM) vendor AirWatch.

What is new is how VMware has created a platform around identity that is "inextricably linked" to mobility, said Noah Wasmer, VMware's end-user computing CTO and VP of product management.

Identity Manager will provide access to applications with one touch from any device. It's not limited to just AirWatch deployments as admins can use Identity Manager for SSO across different VMware management interfaces such as vCloud Air and vRealize.

With mobility, identity management becomes even more important as a security measure for app and data access across corporate- and personally-owned devices. EMM vendors can build their own offerings or, like Samsung KNOX or MobileIron Inc., can federate with established vendors such as Okta Inc., Centrify Corp. or Ping Identity Corp. to bring identity management to customers.

[End-user computing] isn't what VMware is known for but these integrations are moving them quite well along.
Eric Klein, analyst, VDC Research Group

Identity Manager is another attempt by VMware to more tightly integrate AirWatch with other parts of its core business, said Nicholas McQuire, vice president of enterprise research at CCS Insight, a market analysis firm in London. For example, VMware recently integrated AirWatch with its NSX network virtualization offering.

The introduction of Identity Manager should help VMware compete more closely with Microsoft's Azure Active Directory Premium, McQuire said. Azure Active Directory Premium is included in Microsoft's Enterprise Mobility Suite, its EMM platform.

After VMworld 2014, Microsoft compared its EMM suite to VMware's and noted AirWatch did not have its own identity management product. Now, VMware wants to pull even, McQuire said.

"[VMware] is thinking about who their biggest competitor is and one of them is Microsoft," he said. "Microsoft has a big advantage [in identity management] in the minds of customers."

App Configuration for iOS devices

VMware built its Identity Manager in part on its 2010 acquisition of TriCipher, a company that specialized in access management for SaaS applications. While TriCipher was an on-premises product, VMware built out Identity Manager's cloud capabilities on its own, McQuire said.

Despite its late arrival, VMware Identity Manager could be a strong way to offer both enhanced user experience and security for mobile customers, said Eric Klein, senior mobility analyst for VDC Research Group Inc. in Natick, Mass.

"[VMware] wants to make sure what companies implement for mobile isn't only secure but will provide some nice services," Klein said. "[End-user computing] isn't what VMware is known for but these integrations are moving them quite well along."

In addition to new identity management, VMware also will begin rolling out application configuration templates and vertical products for Apple iOS devices within the enterprise. Verticals involved will include healthcare, airlines and education and will come as "single touch" apps.

Wasmer declined to provide additional specifics about the iOS products other than they will be introduced throughout the rest of 2015.

VMware also introduced 15 new partners to the App Configuration for Enterprise (ACE) open standard for managing and securing apps deployed through EMM platforms. Users download a public-facing ACE app and corporate settings are automatically configured. Dropbox, Impravata and Kony are among the new apps to join ACE alongside existing members Box, Cisco and Salesforce.

Identity Manager is available for both on-premises and cloud deployments and will be included in existing Yellow and Blue bundles of AirWatch's EMM suite. Those bundles start at $150 per user, per year.

Jake O'Donnell is the news writer for SearchConsumerization.com and Search VirtualDesktop.com. He can be reached at jodonnell@techtarget.com. Follow him on Twitter @JakeODonnell_TT.

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