VMware Tackles Mobile, Cloud Challenges With Horizon App Manager


VMware on Tuesday unveiled Horizon App Manager, a VMware-hosted identity management service that lets organizations use their existing directory services in the public cloud while maintaining strong security.

Horizon App Manager is VMware's first step toward Project Horizon, a cloud-based identity system that seeks to address the IT challenges caused by the exploding usage of mobile devices and SaaS apps in businesses.

Horizon App Manager detects Active Directory, or any LDAP-compliant service, and pushes it into the cloud, where it can be used with Salesforce.com, Google Apps, and other third party public cloud apps. Users' passwords, however, stay behind the firewall, which is the crux of the balance VMware is trying to achieve, said Noah Wasmer, director of advanced development at VMware.

"We think there needs to be way to give end users flexibility while at the same time giving administrators more control," Wasmer said in an interview.

Horizon App Manager is VMware's first management tool focused on end user computing, but VMware's data center virtualization experience makes it well suited to helping businesses move to the cloud on their own terms, according to Wasmer. "We think enterprises are saying 'I like my Active Directory and want to keep it there, how do I extend that into cloud services?'" he said.

For users, Horizon App Manager is a simple, single-password experience: They choose the cloud apps they'd like to use, their request goes to IT for approval, and VMware doesn’t charge third party cloud operators to be part of its apps catalog, Wasmer said.

"In addition to making users more productive, we think giving this kind of granular access to data represents a new way of working, both from a management and end user perspective," Wasmer said. "It's a milestone for us to have this new management center in the cloud that can control apps and services -- this is a new perimeter for security."

VMware is only currently offering Horizon App Manager to select early access customers in North America and Asia Pacific Region, and it's charging $30 users per year for the service. In other regions, VMware is making Horizon App Manager available via trials, according to a company statement.

VMware intends to be "very aggressive" in the coming months in terms of updating and adding new features to Horizon App Manager, and in building compatibility with additional third party applications, Wasmer said.

Similar to its vCloud initiative, VMware's engagement model for Horizon App Manager will have a service provider focus, Wasmer said.

"Our goal is to stand up services, take on users, create an operational blue print for how to manage, and then hand it over to service provider partners," he said, adding that VMware expects major service providers to eventually set up their own versions of Horizon App Manager.