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Modernizing Laptop Management

It’s been a busy—and incredibly exciting—summer for business mobility.

Noah blog series graphicOver the past several months, I’ve been close to some of the biggest innovations and announcements in the business mobility space. I’ve spoken with customers about their mobility journeys over the past several years, but recently a striking new reality is surfacing to the top. We are witnessing major transformations in phone, laptop and tablet operating systems and hardware, and at the same time, a revolution in management and security is taking place. These shifts, combined with the innovations coming from an ecosystem of application developers, security and technology vendors, are ensuring that the way organizations manage their desktop and laptop footprints will never be the same.

Reimagining Imaging, Access & Management

I’ve been saying for years that we have to rethink mobile computing for both the user and IT, in a way that enables simple access, collaboration and sharing of information.

Your users just want to be able to pick up any device and get to work. They want single touch access to information regardless of the device or business policy. When enterprises fail to provide a great, consumer-like experience for accessing apps and data because of security, employees will invent new ways of working that are often less secure and put your business data at risk.

Conversely, IT managers are asked to do more with less, and they also want an elegant way to deploy, manage and secure users’ devices within a single management console. Until recently, we’ve seen the way organizations manage their mobile fleets contrast with how they oversee their pools of desktops and laptops. Organizations tend to use different systems from different vendors to meet different operational requirements with varying degrees of success.

[Related: AirWatch Delivers on Business Mobility Vision at AirWatch Connect]

The industry has been working towards a vision of a unified mobile device management experience across iOS, Android and Windows Phone, but unifying laptop and desktop management into that same paradigm has always been on the periphery—a completely different process and toolset. IT managers have to juggle multiple management consoles, lifecycles, user groups, contracts and app and software delivery processes. Additionally, the traditional desktop management environment often requires hours of redundant tasks, such as imaging, software updates, app installs and virus definition updates. And with locked-down desktops, the result is a flood of support calls. In fact, in talking with customers, it is not uncommon to see an average organization having one IT person for every ~250 desktops deployed. Compare that with the average organization with one administrator for every 3,000 mobile devices deployed via EMM.

All of this is about to change, thanks to recent innovations.

Two Transformational Leaps toward Unified Management

Since the entrance of desktops and mobile phones into the business world, there’s been a very clear line between “mobile” and unified device management graphic“desktop.” Companies have both desktop managers and mobile managers. Laptops are managed via PC lifecycle management, while smartphones and tablets use EMM. These two different worlds require very different strategies, processes and people resources. Two important announcements this summer have changed everything.

Microsoft’s Windows 10 debut at the end of July now makes it possible for IT pros to make EMM the standard management for devices running on the new Windows operating system—and yes, this includes the desktops and laptops running Windows 10. As the first truly mobile operating system for both desktop and mobile devices, and with the concept of universal applications, Microsoft has helped make true unified endpoint management possible using solutions like AirWatch EMM. No longer will there be Windows desktop apps and Windows mobile apps; apps are just apps, regardless of the device on which end users access information.

Let me reiterate, since I’ve been asked about this a lot recently: Windows 10 makes it possible to manage Windows laptops just like you manage Windows mobile devices—one operating system with interchangeable apps for desktop and mobile. Because of this, you can now manage ALL of your Windows 10 devices with AirWatch EMM, right alongside your fleet of iOS and Android mobile devices. By unifying the Windows experience across the device ecosystem, Windows gets us tantalizingly closer to the transformation we’ve been innovating toward all these years. In fact, Microsoft took the stage for the first time at VMworld U.S. this year to talk about how we’re working together to make this EMM dream a reality. The vision of every device, one console is closer than ever before.

[Related: 10 Things IT Pros Need to Know about Windows 10]

On the Apple front, APIs have enabled us to manage Mac OS X and iOS devices in a similar way for years, and we’ve been innovating quickly. So quickly, in fact, that we just announced support for Mac OS X El Capitan enrollment and management. The El Capitan capabilities (see the impressive list here) make consolidated laptop management even more of a reality. But the key, most important aspect of this announcement is that these enterprise-ready features get us so much closer to achieving truly unified endpoint management.

[Related: What the Enterprise Needs to Know about iOS 9 and OS X El Capitan]

One Vision. One Experience. One Console.

Our vision has always been to enable a user to be productive through a Digital Workspace of apps, data and services that enables a productive workforce across any device. Users don’t care “what type of app” it is; they just want them to work! They don’t care about certificates or authentication or secure cloud app delivery. They don’t care about the delineation between personal smartphone or work computer. They only want to access an application for work or create a spreadsheet in the office, and then access the updated version again on their iPad at home. So for years, IT teams, developers and technology innovators like us have been working unceasingly to superglue together the many pieces needed to provide that unified, seamless experience for users AND help companies protect their business-critical data to achieve their objectives. But now, the stars are aligning with EMM across every operating system, and thanks to the tireless work of AirWatch’s developers, we can finally treat laptops and desktops in the same way as mobile devices. Even better, we can unleash the full potential of our teams.

One console for both our desktops AND mobile devices. Finally, modern management has arrived.

This is the first blog in Noah’s new “Reimagining Business Mobility” series. To get the next one in your inbox, simply sign up for our newsletter on the right.

Noah Wasmer

Noah Wasmer

Noah is the End User Computing CTO and VP Product Management for VMware.


  1. David Boscia

    Great vision Noah. Devil is always in the details, as Apps are not all we need to manage. Security patching, feature patching must be addressed in the unification as well. SaaS solutions like Office 365 can also shape the speed in which this vision can be achieved. Let’s not forget the enterprise network friendly requirements that today drive us to internal software distribution sites with even some P2P delivery models. However, unification on managing ANY device (corp or personal/byo) is certainly in our future. Bring it on!

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