We are entering unchartered territory when it comes to surveillance because of information broadcast from our smartphones even when they're off. Right now, it's the NSA collecting this data, but as computing power gets ever cheaper, it could be your local police or even the store you just entered.
VMware aims to help companies regain control over the mobile workforce
VMware announced a new product this morning to help IT gain control over the rising tide of consumerization. It's a vision that will appeal to IT departments who long for the old days of tightly controlled Windows desktops and applications, but end-users might not welcome it.
VMware Horizon Workspace is the latest addition to the Horizon family, a blanket brand for the company's remote access solutions. Workspace puts all of a user's data, approved applications, and virtual desktops into a single virtual workspace, which is then delivered consistently across all types of devices. In other words, no matter if you're logging on from a Windows PC at work or iPad at home, the experience will look, feel, and work more or less the same.
The benefits to IT are clear: it can now manage access to mobile apps from a central console, rolling out apps to particular users or departments, revoking access when a user leaves the company, and so on.
There's also a file-sharing system built into Workspace that lets users share documents and files, with enterprise-friendly features like auditing.
VMware's senior director of end-user computing, Eric Freiberg, explained that a lot of enterprises want to rationalize a bunch of different "point solutions," such as mobile device management and file-sharing (think Box or Huddle).
"A lot of companies like all their data and all assets within their data center," he told CITEworld. "A lot of SaaS [software-as-a-service] services are a great solution if 20 people in the marketing group need to share files, but very few look at them as strategic enterprise-wide platform."
So what do users get out of it?
Well ... if they're not already using a cloud-based file-sharing solution, this is better than the old-fashioned method of sending around e-mail attachments. It also provides single sign-on, which can be a time saver versus having 20 different cloud-based apps with 20 different logins -- although plenty of cloud services already offer Active Directory integration or work with single sign-on tools like Okta.
But really, this solution is not pitched at users or individual departments. It's for organizations who already have VMware as part of their infrastructure, and want to extend that infrastructure to get more control over users as they work from more locations and more types of devices. Those are very real concerns for some organizations, like companies in strictly regulated industries or government agencies. For those companies, it's better than the alternative of locking users out entirely.
VMware also announced updates to a couple other products -- in particular, Horizon View will get support for new gestures that will make it easier to control Windows apps from touch-screen devices like iPads, and users will be able to access virtual Windows desktops with a web browser (no client required).
It turns out that most IT departments no longer want to buy, install, and run software on their own servers, and the ancillary benefits of the cloud -- like easier mobile access for workforces that combine full-time employees and contractors -- seal the deal.
Adding to a string of announcements aimed at making its service more appealing to businesses, Dropbox this morning said that Dell will start selling the service to its customers.
The battle over which platform delivers the best location and context services to mobile users is already underway with Google in the lead, but Apple's purchase of mapping startups and social analytics firm Topsy, combined with its Bluetooth-based iBeacons could give Apple a strong chance.
Box is experiencing some good times these days with new features, new funding and a high profile CEO, but Box has to be careful as it grows to say true to its root and not fall into the trap becoming just another enterprise software company.