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VMware partners with Google to manage Chrome devices

VMware's AirWatch subsidiary has partnered with Google to enable unified end-point management (UEM) of all Chrome OS devices in an enterprise.

Through VMware Workspace ONE's cloud portal, IT admins will be able to manage Chrome devices in their company alongside all other endpoints from a single console.

Among other things, IT managers will be able to perform a number of tasks including on-boarding employees; provisioning, auditing and tracking hardware; device wiping; and securing access to personalized enterprise app catalogs.

With new enterprise-ready capabilities from Chrome Enterprise License, companies will also be able to control device policies using a customizable assignment of groups based on geography, device platform, department, and employee role. The goal is to simplify policy enforcement across an enterprise, VMware said.

"The consumerization of the enterprise has left IT managing multiple operating systems on a variety of devices – some provided by the business and others brought in by employees," said Sumit Dhawan, general manager of End-User Computing at VMware. "As Chrome OS continues to gain momentum, our customers are eager to manage these devices consistently along with all other endpoints, including mobile devices."

Through Workspace ONE, VMware AirWatch users will also be able to securely manage the lifecycle of Chromebooks, Dhawan added.

In March, VMware's AirWatch announced a partnership aimed at accelerating the adoption of Chromebooks by enhancing existing application accessibility of the devices through VMware Workspace ONE. That collaboration enabled one-click secure authentication and management of apps – cloud, web and virtual – for organizations deploying Chromebooks.

While it's an industry first in terms of the Google partnership, VMware's move to enable UEM highlights a larger trend as the enterprise mobility management (EMM) software market quickly consolidates. As a result, tools for provisioning, configuring and securing mobile devices are being subsumed into larger product suites.

"I do believe that VMware is the first to offer UEM for Chrome. No doubt, other EMM vendors will follow," said Jack Gold, principal analyst with J. Gold Associates. "The issue is, in certain markets like education and retail, Chromebooks are making significant inroads. Because of their low cost and cloud-app nature, I expect them to continue to do so.

"So if you’re an EMM provider in those markets, you need to offer Chrome if you want to truly be a unified endpoint management platform," Gold said.

Google does already offer some management tools for Chrome, but not to the extent of EMM players, and Google doesn’t do any other platform management, Gold added.

The bundling of EMM suites by established vendors such as VMWare, IBM, SAP, Citrix and others means vendors of stand-alone software products for managing mobile devices may not survive.