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New Workspace One features impress IT admins

VMware introduced new features for its Workspace One digital workspace product, and IT pros are interested in the onboarding and security improvements. Plus, the company made two appealing acquisitions.

SAN FRANCISCO -- VMware is adding new Workspace One features that focus on improving the employee experience, while relieving some stress on IT with virtual assistant capabilities.

The features, unveiled here at VMworld, are enticing because they address common end-user problems, including onboarding, application management and security, according to IT admins in attendance.

"The demonstration of user experience and IT process improvements are focused on showing what's possible to the VMworld audience and get them thinking beyond just application and device management," said Mark Bowker, senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group in Milford, Mass.

New Workspace One features pique interest

The new Workspace One features include an Intelligent Hub Virtual Assistant, which allows employees to complete IT- and HR-related tasks and have the outcomes automated, saving time for both end users and IT.

Some common tasks admins can do through the virtual assistant include procuring and registering a new device, onboarding a new employee, troubleshooting Wi-Fi profiles, opening and managing service desk tickets, and enrolling in company benefits. Employees can also access company resources, such as office locations, seating maps and company policies. IBM Watson AI powers the Hub Virtual Assistant, according to Jeff McGrath, senior director of product marketing at VMware.

Another new Workspace One feature focuses more on IT and the capability to proactively detect and remediate potential issues that could affect end users. Called Digital Employee Experience Management, the new capability combines Workspace One Unified Endpoint Management, Workspace One Intelligence and Apteligent, a mobile application intelligence vendor VMware acquired.

"As someone who's an existing VMware customer, [Workspace One] can pose a significant value proposition with all the integrations we already have with VMware," said Josh Wolfe, a senior systems administrator for a financial services company. "Workspace One could potentially replace a few third-party solutions we use now."

His organization isn't currently a Workspace One customer, but can see the gain the new Workspace One features could bring an IT department, Wolfe said. But the transition won't be seamless for most organizations.

"The potential advantage is also the challenge in terms of migration," Wolfe said. "Because things like onboarding, device management and security have existed in silos for so long, we tend to have these different contracts and process already existing. Something like onboarding with Workspace One may be a more staggered and lengthy rollout than just turning a switch."

Easing the strain on IT and HR resonated with other attendees, as well.

Adam Main, an enterprise architect at Legacy Reserves, an energy company in Midland, Texas, said the organization could benefit from new Workspace One features that automate simple, monotonous tasks from HR and IT. That's particularly the case at Legacy Reserves, because the IT and HR departments are integrated; the CTO is also the head of HR, Main said.

"We've made an effort to streamline things as it is, and onboarding has been a priority for us," he said. "What we saw [at VMworld] was phenomenal."

VMware homes in on security

VMware also unveiled two substantial acquisitions, buying security vendor Carbon Black for $2.1 billion and platform-as-a-service vendor Pivotal for $2.7 billion.

Prior to the Carbon Black acquisition, VMware customers had to explore strategies that encompassed a built-in or bolted-on security strategy. The acquisition greatly simplifies this decision.
Mark BowkerSenior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group

The acquisitions, combined with the new Workspace One features, show a significant reinvestment in digital workspace and the important role security plays in it, Bowker said.

"The VMware Workspace One strategy is a platform geared to deliver a secure and consistent experience to end users across any device," Bowker said. "Prior to the Carbon Black acquisition, VMware customers had to explore strategies that encompassed a built-in or bolted-on security strategy. The acquisition greatly simplifies this decision."

The new Digital Employee Experience Management feature, for example, aims to solve hardware, OS and application issues that could affect an end user's device and tie up IT in the process. If an end user opens an email and downloads an update for some of their applications that ends up being a malware attack, for instance, Workspace One will notify IT, and admins can lock that user's access. IT will be able to remotely diagnose and fix user issues across both mobile devices and PCs.

"A lot of the features with Workspace One around security and analytics were great to see," Main said. "The risk factors dashboard that IT has, combined with the emphasis on providing a consistent experience, is neat."

A more well-rounded digital workspace environment like the one VMware is creating could lead to more adoption, Bowker said.

"The focus on the user and IT are valuable to show as the VMworld audience begins to rotate plans to adopt a [Workspace One] strategy," he said.

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