Whether you want to call it consumerization of enterprises or democratization of IT, we know that it is happening already and no FUD can stop them anymore. Instead of fighting this process, today’s smart enterprises are embracing them by empowering their users to securely use SaaS and other consumer applications. VMware realized this trend and they want to be the gateway through which the democratization of IT happens in the enterprises. The net result is today’s announcement of VMware Horizon App Manager, a user-centric management service for accessing cloud applications from any device.
As enterprise users start using SaaS and other consumer applications in full swing, IT managers are worried about the security and privacy of enterprise data. However, the low cost of these services (with most of the applications using freemium model), the browser based nature of these applications and the availability of powerful smartphones and tablets with browsers, makes it completely impossible for IT to stop their users from using these new age applications. It is not just the new age applications outside the firewall that becomes a headache for IT managers but, also, a new trend where users/organizations prefer the best of breed apps from many different vendors than a suite of applications from a single vendor. Now IT is forced to find a way to let this and, also, find a way to ensure the security and integrity of enterprise data (spread across multiple providers outside of the organization’s firewall).
It is not just the user pressure for such applications that is confronting the IT managers today. With the maturity of SaaS applications and the removal of concerns through better education, even the business leaders are pushing SaaS due to various factors like cost savings, agility, etc.. The fact that smartphones and tablets have already entered the enterprises makes business leaders see the real value in cloud based applications. The pressure faced by IT, both from the top and bottom, opens up opportunities for vendors to offer solutions to solve this problem.
In order to solve this problem, VMware has announced their Horizon App Manager which makes use of their TriCipher acquisition last year. This sits between the enterprise’s existing identity systems like LDAP or Microsoft Active Directory and the applications to offer users a Single Sign-On (SSO) access to their cloud applications. Not only it simplifies the application access to users, it also offers a powerful dashboard for IT admins to control access to cloud applications. They can easily let their users use the applications they need and have a granular access control to restrict applications based on the needs of different groups. It can also be the centralized location to manage the licenses of all their applications.
Some of the features of VMware Horizon App Manager include:
- Multi-Platform and Multi-Device Support
- Enterprise Directory Federation and Cloud Identity Hub
- Standards based secure authentication. Support for SAML, OAuth, multi-factor authentication support including options from RSA. For non federated legacy applications, they offer a connector which will handle it
- Easy application provisioning. Right now they offer support for Box.Net, Google Apps, Salesforce.com, Sliderocket, Zimbra, Webex, etc.
- Role based access control and extensive reporting
Horizon App Manager makes it easy for enterprises users to take advantage of the new breed of applications that empowers them to work and collaborate seamlessly in the globalized marketplace.
By provisioning themselves as a gateway for cloud based applications, VMware is paving an easy way to push their desktop virtualization tools into the enterprise market. With Horizon App Manager, VMware can not only bring the cloud applications but also stream other traditional applications to thin clients running their VDI tools.
I could think of many providers who face competition from this VMware product but I will list few of them here.
- As Klint from ReadWriteCloud pointed out, Okta is a direct competition to Horizon App Manager
- Ping Identity’s Ping Connect is also a direct competition. However, they only support apps with SAML support and, hence, cannot offer support for legacy apps (correct me if I am wrong)
- Google Apps and Chromebooks is a competition. I will expand on this in detail below
Google Apps is an OpenID provider and they can support many different apps based that supports OpenID standard. Google’s Chrome Apps initiative is to make Chrome browser a single point of entry to most of the modern day SaaS offerings. If you see their recent announcement about Chromebooks for businesses, you can understand where they are going. Google’s idea is to slowly onboard the business customers to their Chromebook and SaaS applications. Their management console will let IT control not just the hardware but also the applications that can be accessed using the hardware. If it gains traction, as per Google’s aspirations, this will not only eliminate the bulky desktops from the enterprises but also the thin clients running virtualized desktops. While VMware’s intention is to make OS irrelevant by using virtualization, Google’s grand scheme is to make everything underneath a browser irrelevant including hardware. More than the Oktas and Ping Identitys of the world, I consider Google to be a bigger threat to VMware’s enterprise plans (Note: There is a big “if factor” in this argument and this threat will be a reality only if Google succeeds in their enterprise vision).
This move by VMware clearly shows that they are getting the undercurrents of enterprise market. This is good for cloud computing because it will onboard more and more enterprises to use cloud based applications. It will be interesting to see how they integrate Horizon App Manager, their own SaaS applications and VMware View to offer a comprehensive solution to enterprises.
- VMware Launches Single Sign-On Service (readwriteweb.com)
- Quick Ping: VMware’s Horizon App Manager – A Big Bet That Will Pay Off… (rationalsurvivability.com)
- VMware Debuts Sign-on Service for Cloud Applications (pcworld.com)
- VMware debuts sign-on service for cloud applications (infoworld.com)
- VMware Unveils Horizon App Manager (informationweek.com)
- VMware boots up Horizon cloudy app manager (go.theregister.com)