VMware debuts AirWatch for SMB

Jeff McGrath, senior director for product marketing of end user computing at VMware

Jeff McGrath, senior director for product marketing of end user computing at VMware

VMware is hoping to expand the market for enterprise mobility management well outside the enterprise market with the launch of a new Express edition of its AirWatch offering, which promises the basics of its flagship offering in a cloud-based subscription offering at a low price.

AirWatch Express will feature some of the basics of AirWatch, including mandating a PIN, setting encryption, and remote wiping of devices, at a price point of $2.50 per device per month. Targeted at SMBs, the Express edition is capped at 500 devices per customer. Jeff McGrath, senior director for product marketing of end user computing at VMware, said the company does get “more advanced” SMB customers for the full AirWatch offering, but that with Express, it will become attractive to much broader swath of SMB.

“We were getting the more advances SMBs, the early adopters or those who are more regulated and have more requirements,” McGrath said. “The market for EMM is maturing. The late-coming majority that didn’t have EMM requirements in the past, or for whom the budget wasn’t readily available, now have a solution that’s priced for them to dip their toes in enable the basics.”

AirWatch Express will be configured based on a set of templates the company calls blueprints, and the focus is on easy deployment. Because of that, McGrath said, it may not be a great fit for partners that are heavily focused on professional services. “You’re probably an AirWatch house,” if you fit that description, he suggested.

But like Express will open AirWatch to a new set of customers, McGrath said the company sees a new breed of AirWatch partner as a result.

“This is really made for those channel partners that focus on the SMB. This is an ideal opportunity for managed service providers — a simple, non-intrusive solution to build their own mobile practice,” he said.

AirWatch Express will be openly available through VMware’s distributors, with training available via the VMware site. Solution providers will not have to be registered VMware partners to sell AirWatch Express, but those who register will have access to training and enablement through the company’s partner portal. VMware only recently rolled the previously-separate AirWatch partner program fully under the VMware umbrella.

The Express also offers a path for customers to move up to the “full” version of the AirWatch suite. Granted, the Express solution is pretty much intended for customers for whom AirWatch is either too much in terms of features or price point today, but VMware is betting “today” is the key word there.

“Undoubtedly, as they grow and mature, they’re able to upgrade to the full AirWatch, and partners will be part of that,” McGrath said.

He added that it will be a “simple process on the backend” to make the leap, but that partners would find opportunities for services around building the policies and processes for AirWatch for former AirWatch Express customers. The full AirWatch does not use the same blueprint methodology that Express runs on, McGrath explained, but “it does have a number of wizards and some vertical templates you can leverage.”

As well as customers “growing into” the full AirWatch, McGrath said the company believes there are other scenarios that could see customers move up from Express. One of those trends might be the ability to manage all end user devices on the network as Windows 10, which is manageable via EMM, becomes more standard for customers.