AirWatch to transform laptops into 'first-class citizens'

AirWatch plans to leverage VMware's Horizon 6 platform to help enterprises extend their mobile device management to include laptops and PCs.

AirWatch has traditionally been providing enterprises with tools and services specifically for mobile device management such as smartphones and tablets. But now, the company plans to extend its device management to laptops.

"We're changing the game, and we're going to elevate laptops to be a first-class citizen," said John Marshall, AirWatch CEO and co-founder, at AirWatch Connect 2014 in Sydney.

Much like how the company has provided a unified management platform for smartphones and tablets, it plans to do the same for laptops and PCs. The platform will include managing deployment of apps, enrolment, asset tracking, trouble shooting, and getting content out to apps.

"I think over the next 12 to 24 months, you're going to see a huge shift in how laptops and PCs are managed," Marshall said.

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Marshall said this shift will stem from the growing number of end users buying new laptops and bringing them into the workplace. He said the use of new laptops will see these users shift into the mobile cloud architecture to avoid the "rugged, rigid polices they would traditionally have in the PC life-cycle management".

"They want to be able to take a laptop, enrol it, and get that cloud experience they're getting with their smartphone and tablet."

Similarly, AirWatch Australia and New Zealand managing director Rob Roe said it's no longer about mobile device management; it's about end-user computing, particularly as users consider adopting devices such as the Microsoft Surface Pro, a device that sits in between being a laptop and a tablet.

"We're seeing a lot of replacements with the Surface Pro and those similar devices, so it's kind of like 'What's a laptop?' The laptop is morphing, and the other thing is BYOD is extending to BYOL, bring your own laptop," he said.

"We're seeing a lot more MacBooks in organisations now than ever before, and the IT guys right now are in need to help to manage the support of BYOL."

But the main problem Marshall said is standing in the way has been the "ball and chains" of existing legacy Windows applications. To overcome this, AirWatch plans to leverage VMware's recently announced Horizon 6 , and allow these new laptop and PC users access to all of those legacy applications, and "break free" from traditional PC life-cycle management.

AirWatch last week announced a partnership with Hewlett-Packard's enterprise unit for mobile management software deployments.