VMware AirWatch Enterprise Mobility Management


This is an interesting product, mostly because of the vendor. VMware usually is associated with virtual environments, so we were a bit surprised to see that the company has added MDM to its bag. That said, the product is well thought-out and has a lot of good functionality. It is a cloud-based system and setup is through the cloud. Documentation is excellent. The management guide is 193 pages of "how-to," so even though the setup and deployment of this tool is not a walk in the park, the documentation can get you through it.

We viewed this from the perspective of the user, but after going through the management guide we were satisfied that deployment consisted largely of configuring the environment to support particular unique organizational needs. Unfortunately, this is another one that requires a visit to a commercial app store. 

User enrollment is very straightforward. We started by connecting to the console that VMware had set up for us. This was complicated by the fact that the iPad Mini that the vendor supplied to us for testing was DOA without the ability to take a battery charge. We got around that by using our own tablet.

The web portal is sparse without being deficient, probably a good thing given that it is so easy to populate portals with sundry junk that looks impressive but doesn't add much. There is really nothing there that you don't need to set up the system. Security is good - we found ourselves locked out at one point for fumbling our password too many times. The portal has a free trial capability, but be careful that you work through all of your options so that you can see the power of the tool. 

In addition to the management guide there are other useful documents on the website which are linked to, thankfully, from within the management guide. Like all tools of this type, this one is policy driven and there is an excellent section in the management guide on compliance policies. This is a workflow-driven system. Policy enforcement capabilities, of course, vary by platform. So, Android devices have different capabilities from iOS or Windows, for example. Those capabilities are outlined neatly in a table in the guide, so administrators and security policy-makers can see exactly what is and what is not enforceable by the tool.

Like the compliance capabilities, there are different remote actions that the portal can perform based on the operating system of the device, and those are outlined neatly in the guide as well.

Once we were up and running, we tested a user and had no difficulty in enrolling.

This is a competitively priced system, if a bit on the high side, and basic 12/5 support is included - a bit limited, we think - with higher levels available at an extra cost. The web portal is complete with FAQ, knowledge bases and support portal. VMware provides a pre-installation checklist to customers deploying for the first time. The list includes Project scope (deployment size and device types), desired use cases (BYOD, corporate only, application management, content collaboration, etc.), level of enterprise integration (AD/LDAP, email, SharePoint, SIEM, etc.) and security, scalability and resource requirements. This can help through the more complex aspects of an MDM deployment by guiding the customer through a specification process - necessary, but often not done well.

Product title
VMware AirWatch Enterprise Mobility Management
Product info
Name: Enterprise Mobility Management Description: Strong product with the backing of a venerable player in the IT and security community. Price: Starts at $52/year per user.
Excellent documentation, moderately simple deployment, but well-guided and documented.
Forces the use of a commercial app store, can be a bit pricey if support other than basic is purchased (12/5 is not enough for many organizations).
Strong product with the backing of a venerable player in the IT and security community.

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