Microsoft Exec: 'Finding A Unicorn' Is Easier Than Getting Protection From VMware's AirWatch Product


A high-profile Microsoft executive took a shot at VMware’s enterprise mobility products Tuesday, and there’s reason to believe this was more than just ordinary competitive trash talk.

Brad Anderson, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Windows Server and System Center products, is unimpressed with the enterprise mobility features in AirWatch, the mobile device management vendor VMware acquired in January for $1.5 billion.

VMware talked about AirWatch in its VMworld keynote Tuesday.

[Related: VMware Throws Coming Out Party For AirWatch, Unveils End-User Computing Partnerships With Google, Nvidia And SAP]

"At Microsoft, we are investing in a much broader set of capabilities than VMware -- specifically, we are protecting at the device, app, data and identity layers," Anderson said in a blog post laden with fear, uncertainty and doubt about AirWatch.

While Microsoft’s Enterprise Mobility Suite has all of these security measures, VMware’s AirWatch product does not, according to Anderson. VMware also has no answer to Microsoft products like Active Directory and System Center Configuration Manager, he said.

"VMware is totally missing protection at the file and identity layers -- and that’s a deal breaker," Anderson said in the blog post. "If you’re looking for a comparable identity and access management solution from VMware/AirWatch, you’ll have better luck finding a unicorn."

Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS), which Microsoft unveiled in March, is a licensing bundle that includes Windows Intune, a paid version of Azure Active Directory with advanced features and Azure Rights Management Services.

What’s interesting about Anderson’s post is that Microsoft was considering acquiring AirWatch before VMware made its successful bid in January, sources familiar with the discussions told CRN in March.

Microsoft had done some integration between its Yammer enterprise social networking product and AirWatch, but removed it after the VMware acquisition, sources told CRN in March.

Anderson’s argument is that AirWatch lacks identity management protections that could protect customers in the event of a security breach.

VMware AirWatch also can’t "deeply and fully manage the Office apps across Windows, iOS and Android," Anderson said.

AirWatch does manage Office but does so via "clones" of Word, PowerPoint, Excel and Outlook that it has built, Anderson said.

"These apps don’t operate like the real Office apps from Microsoft and they lack the rich, unmistakably Office experience. You can count on document compatibility and rendering issues," Anderson said in the blog post.

Chris Hertz, CEO of Washington, D.C.-based Microsoft partner New Signature, sees the advantages Anderson outlined as important differentiators.

"Identity and access is really an enormous strength that is vitally important when it comes to the cloud," Hertz said in an email.

NEXT: VMware's Top End-User Computing Exec Sanjay Poonen Responds