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1/22/2014
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VMware Goes Mobile With AirWatch Buy

VMware accelerates expansion outside the datacenter in a $1.54 billion deal that will broaden the company's End-User Computing portfolio.

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Virtualization and cloud infrastructure vendor VMware on Wednesday announced an agreement to buy mobile device management and mobile security vendor AirWatch for $1.54 billion.

AirWatch will bolster VMware's End-User Computing (EUC) group, which was formed in 2010 with the Horizon desktop management product line. Last October, VMware acquired Desktone, which provides a desktop-as-a-service virtualization platform for delivering Windows desktops and applications as a cloud service. With the AirWatch deal, VMware extends its management grasp to mobile devices.

"VMware’s vision for end-user computing has been to create a secure virtual workspace that allows end-users to… move from desktop, to laptop, to tablet, to phone, to car," stated Sanjay Poonen, executive VP  and general manager of the EUC group. Poonen previously headed up mobile strategy at SAP, and was named head of the EUC group last August.

[Want more on this vendor? Read VMware Datacenter Growth Far From Over.]

VMWare is planning to give AirWatch a high degree of independence. Once the deal is completed, which is expected to happen in the first quarter, employees will continue to report to AirWatch founder and CEO John Marshall, who will, in turn, report to Poonen. AirWatch's co-founder and chairman, Alan Dabbiere, will oversee a new operating board that will report to VMWare CEO Pat Gelsinger.

"By joining a proven innovator like VMware, we now have an opportunity to bring our leading-edge solutions to an even broader set of customers and partners to help them optimize for the mobile-cloud world," said Dabbiere in a statement.

AirWatch applications.
AirWatch applications.

Headquartered in Atlanta, Ga., AirWatch provides mobile device management, mobile application management, and mobile content management software to more than 10,000 customers globally. Competitors range from MobileIron and Apperian to BoxTone, SAP Afaria, and the IBM MobileFirst Platform.

"We have been predicting for some time the demise of the stand-alone mobile device management market as mobile has matured and is mainstream at nearly every enterprise," wrote Jack Gold, principal analyst, J.Gold Associates, in an emailed research note on the deal.  "Recent acquisitions -- IBM/Fibrelink, SAP/Sybase, Citrix/Zenprise, Oracle/Bitzer -- have taken place and we don’t think market consolidation is done yet."

Of the more than 2 billion smartphones and tablets now in use, more than half touch corporate datacenters, according to AirWatch.

Doug Henschen is executive editor of InformationWeek, where he covers the intersection of enterprise applications with information management, business intelligence, big data, and analytics. He previously served as editor-in-chief of Intelligent Enterprise, editor-in-chief of Transform magazine, and executive editor at DM News.

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Drew Conry-Murray
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Drew Conry-Murray,
User Rank: Ninja
1/23/2014 | 10:18:20 AM
Re: Poonen Selection Signaled Mobile Intentions
The idea of a virtualized workspace that can follow users from device to device sounds good, but when you try and stitch something like that together via acquisitions, you get something that looks nice on a PowerPoint, but in reality is an ugly, kludgy mess.
cbabcock
IW Pick
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cbabcock,
User Rank: Strategist
1/22/2014 | 4:22:08 PM
Mobility management part of software-defined data center
Mobile device management needs as much centralization and automation as IT can muster and AirWatch will be part of that in VMware shops. Being able to manage the device connectivity, application and content from one system across multiple devices will be a big step forward. A central figure in this, Sanjay Poonan, joined VMware quietly while everyone was remarking last June and July on how so many VMware executives were leaving. The revolving door seems to work in both directions. Poonan is trying to ensure that VMware builds mobility management into the future software-defined data center. 
ChrisMurphy
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ChrisMurphy,
User Rank: Author
1/22/2014 | 1:02:16 PM
Re: Poonen Selection Signaled Mobile Intentions
I talked with Airwatch CEO John Marshal in October, and he put a lot of emphasis on managing content on mobile devices -- steps like making sure you don't send a 50 MB presentation file to every company salesperson that sends everyone over their data limits and costs 6 figures. I take that as an effort to get Airwatch away from the mobile device management label.   
RobPreston
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RobPreston,
User Rank: Author
1/22/2014 | 12:41:09 PM
Re: Poonen Selection Signaled Mobile Intentions
VMware, like Google with many of its acquisitions, may be making this deal as much for the talent as for the technology. Granted, $1.5 billion is a lot to spend for talent, but I suspect VMware will quickly point AirWatch's people in a highly profitable direction. 
Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
1/22/2014 | 12:25:37 PM
Re: Poonen Selection Signaled Mobile Intentions
Yes, VMware wants mobile chops. Everyone does. But throwing $1.5 billion at what's essentially an MDM provider when desktop virtualization is a bridge tech at best? Color me skeptical. 
D. Henschen
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D. Henschen,
User Rank: Author
1/22/2014 | 12:06:37 PM
Poonen Selection Signaled Mobile Intentions
It was pretty easy to guess VMware was headed into the mobile arena when it selected Sanjay Poonen, formerly of SAP, to run the End-User Computing Group last August. At SAP, Poonen expanded on the mobile portfolio acquired with they Sybase acquisition. I'm hearing less and less about mobile from SAP lately, but it's probably a momentary lull until the next acquisition. The problem with behind-the-scenes infrastructure software is that it's, well, behind the scenes. Admins rejoice.
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