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New VMware mobile app feature goes with the flow

VMware Mobile Flows aim to make it easier to mobilize common business processes without building full-fledged apps, which can be complex and expensive.

LAS VEGAS -- A new VMware Workspace One feature aims to help organizations mobilize common business processes.

VMware previewed Mobile Flows, which allow IT to create a mobile workflow that spans multiple applications and present it to users in a unified interface. Users can access the interface directly from VMware's Boxer email app or through a stand-alone workflow app, also known as a micro app.

"I don't think users have realized that this will be beneficial to them, but VMware figured it out," said Eric Klein, director of mobile software at VDC Research. "It's very forward-thinking."

Organizations can't actually build stand-alone apps with Mobile Flows; they must use a third-party tool for that.

"We are not getting into the app dev space," said Renu Upadhyay, a VMware director of product marketing.

What are Mobile Flows for?

VMware demoed several Mobile Flows use cases here at VMworld. If a sales employee receives an email from a client, Boxer can display the client's detailed information from Salesforce, for example. And when the client requests an order quote via email, the employee can initiate an approval request to their manager directly from that email.

Those actions would typically require access to multiple applications.

"That's unintuitive and completely unpractical on mobile," said Sumit Dhawan, senior vice president and general manager of end-user computing at VMware.

The VMware mobile app feature Mobile Flows hold potential for mobilizing IT support tasks that rely on large back-end software such as Cherwell Service Management, said Patrick McGraw, virtual infrastructure engineer at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, N.C.

"That's hard to navigate on mobile," he said.

Mobile Flows also allow organizations to build unified endpoint management capabilities into the workflows they create, giving IT the same level of security and control it has over other types of apps.

VMware mobile app partners boost capabilities

The key to success for VMware lies in getting Mobile Flows incorporated into all enterprise apps, not just Boxer, said Andrew Garver, research director at Gartner.

VMware has partnered with certain mobile workflow vendors, but any development platform will be able to build Mobile Flows apps, Upadhyay said. Some partners offer additional capabilities, however.

With PowWow Mobile's SmartUX development platform, for example, Mobile Flows can connect to any back-end database, application or other system -- not only those that VMware integrates with.

And Sapho provides the option to integrate Mobile Flows into existing email apps, messaging clients and other enterprise systems -- even on the desktop -- instead of having to build a stand-alone app. VMware's use of Boxer in the native capabilities of Mobile Flows will open up IT's eyes to these other possibilities, Sapho CEO Fouad ElNaggar said.

Additional VMware mobile app partners are Dell Boomi and Capriza.

Mobile Flows, a Workspace One add-on, will be available as a tech preview. There is no timetable for an official release.

The news follows VMware's acquisition of Apteligent in May. Developers use Apteligent to analyze the apps they build, and VMware has incorporated the technology into its new Workspace One Intelligence service.

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