VMware: We're Bringing AirWatch To Channel Partners, And It's Going To Be Spectacular

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VMware, after plunking down $1.5 billion to acquire mobile device management vendor AirWatch in January, is about ready to roll it out to channel partners around the world.

VMware plans to add AirWatch products to its price list for distributors in the second half of the year, Co-President and COO Carl Eschenbach said on the vendor's fiscal first-quarter earnings call Tuesday.  

AirWatch already had a well-developed channel program when VMware bought it, so there shouldn't be much heavy lifting involved in bringing it to VMware partners.

[Related: VMware's Licensing Business Takes Hit In Q1, But Execs Claim Rivals Aren't Taking Share]

Jed Ayres, chief marketing officer of MCPc, a Cleveland-based VMware partner that was also one of AirWatch's first partners, is bullish on VMware bringing AirWatch to the channel.

"Customers want to eliminate complexity and deal with fewer suppliers," Ayres said in an email. "This move gives MCPc and our customers a best-of-breed mobile device management solution."

There are a few reasons why VMware believes AirWatch will be a hit. First, Eschenbach said VMware has "deep, meaningful relationships" with enterprise customers and is betting that these firms will find AirWatch useful for dealing with bring-your-own-device IT challenges.

VMware says AirWatch is on track for $100 million in revenue this fiscal year, and on the earnings call, CEO Pat Gelsinger said the integration of AirWatch is off to a good start. "We've seen the teams come together well," he said on the call.

VMware executives have taken to calling AirWatch a "Switzerland-like" technology that works with any kind of device, from iPhone and iPads to Android smartphones and tablets, and even Windows Phone, BlackBerry and Symbian devices.

Enterprises can use AirWatch to specify which corporate apps and data are available on employees' devices, as well as how the devices are secured. If a device is lost, it can also remotely lock and wipe data from them.

Jamie Shepard, regional and health systems senior vice president at Lumenate, a Dallas-based VMware partner, said AirWatch will help his firm expand the scope of its health-care IT practice and comply with HIPAA requirements for securing patient data on mobile devices.

VMware sees tons of opportunity for AirWatch in Europe and the Asia-Pacific markets, where VMware is well known but AirWatch does not have as much of a presence.

"We're working very closely to leverage the core VMware sales force in our channel in those international markets, driving broad adoption and expansion of AirWatch going forward," Eschenbach said.

AirWatch is another step in VMware's quest to build additional revenue streams to go along with its vSphere server virtualization cash cow. There already has been some progress here: VMware CFO Jonathan Chadwick said on the call that 45 percent of the company's bookings in the first quarter came from non-vSphere products.

AirWatch also gives VMware a horse in the MDM space and an answer to IBM's acquisition of Fiberlink and Citrix's 2012 acquisition of Zenprise. While VMware rules server virtualization and Citrix dominates in desktop virtualization, no vendor has yet taken command of the MDM market.

By bringing AirWatch to the channel, VMware is hoping to dominate in a technology that is fast becoming just as strategically important to enterprises as server virtualization has been.


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