LAS VEGAS -- VMware shops will soon have more management and security features for Microsoft Office 365 mobile apps at their disposal.
VMware Workspace One now supports the Microsoft Graph API for Intune, which lets third-party enterprise mobility management (EMM) vendors provide direct Office 365 mobile app management. VMware is also integrating its identity management capabilities into the main Workspace One console. The moves mean VMware admins can manage Office 365 apps through the same interface as all their other apps, without having to switch between multiple products.
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VMware announced the news here at its annual VMworld user conference.
New ways to manage Office 365
Previously, the only way to manage Office 365 mobile apps with Workspace One and its EMM component, AirWatch, was to control user access through VMware Identity Manager. Although VMware sells Identity Manager as part of Workspace One, the product has a separate management console than the rest of the suite.
Alternatively, VMware shops could use Microsoft Intune, Citrix XenMobile or BlackBerry Enterprise Mobility Suite to apply advanced security policies directly to Office 365 apps. But this approach also required IT to use a separate console.
Now, VMware's identity management capabilities are integrated into the main Workspace One console, as are the advanced Office 365 mobile app management features from the Graph API. Those features allow IT to prevent users from copying data out of Office 365 apps, enforce the use of passcodes for access to those apps and encrypt their data.
Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, N.C., does not use EMM yet but is on Office 365. The ability to manage its mobile apps through Workspace One will help improve the overall Office 365 experience, said Patrick McGraw, the school's virtual infrastructure engineer.
"If we can deliver that easier, it would be nice," he said.
Office 365 mobile app management heats up
Citrix and BlackBerry are the only other EMM vendors that support the Graph API for Intune. Microsoft requires organizations to have Intune licenses even if they use other EMM software to manage Office 365 apps through the API. That may limit this feature's appeal, but it's an issue that all EMM vendors that support the API will have to deal with, said Eric Klein, director of mobile software at VDC Research.
Many organizations already have Intune licenses through other Microsoft software agreements, which may help mitigate some concerns.
As mobile device management (MDM) and mobile application management (MAM) technology becomes more of a commodity, the ability to provide advanced support for specific applications is becoming increasingly important for vendors, said Andrew Garver, research director at Gartner.
"MDM and MAM are not the places where EMM platforms are attempting to differentiate," he said.
Citrix, which lost its place as a leader in this year's Gartner Magic Quadrant for EMM, still has other differentiators, thanks to its close relationship with Microsoft. Those include advanced app management capabilities through NetScaler integration and cloud-based mobile device management on Azure, as noted by Jack Madden, analyst and blogger at BrianMadden.com, in his pre-VMworld analysis.
A closed beta version of the new Office 365 mobile app management capabilities will be available this quarter. The unified Workspace One console with identity management will be generally available (GA) by the end of the year, VMware said. But the Graph API for Intune is itself in beta, so VMware said it can't make its Office 365 features GA until Microsoft does so with that product.
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