VMware Buys a New Baby for AirWatch

In the rumpus of the Dell-EMC merger, you may have missed that VMware has once again been in an acquisitive mood, snapping up the mobile email management startup Boxer for, once again, an undisclosed amount of cash.

For those of you who do not have a OnePlus device running either KitKat or Lollipop, chances are you are unaware of this company and its products. It is, however, the power behind the native Cyanogen email client and, since Lollipop, native calendaring, too. It also provides a client for all other Android and iOS devices; its app can be downloaded from the respective app stores.

What Exactly Does Boxer Do?

At first glance, it may look like another Zimbra moment, but not so.  Boxer is not an email solution, but a client. However, it is much more than just an email client. Boxer currently has an impressive array of integrations, including Box, Dropbox, Evernote, Facebook, Gmail, iCloud, Salesforce, Twitter, Outlook, Yahoo, and many others.

Now, some of those integrations may seem a bit consumer based and not enterprise focused. However, consider merging that functionality with AirWatch’s mobile device management (MDM) products, and now you start to see the power that this purchase can bring to the EUC division: true integration between your online life and your fixed device life; protection of your email assets on to your mobile devices; secure access to cloud-based storage under a single sign-on.

VMware has already announced that it will merge the Boxer purchase into its AirWatch division, as already alluded to. This makes obvious sense, as it will enhance the security of its current AirWatch product by adding an extra security level. As already stated, it seems it was not the mail client per se that VMware was interested in; rather, it was the integration services that it brought to the table that provided the magic sauce.

This is an astute purchase. I cannot imagine that it was an expensive addition to the stack. However, it can provide a lot of value to AirWatch and, by osmosis, other VMware products. It obviously provides valuable synergy with its AirWatch division and as a part of VMware’s progress to reinvent itself as it evolves from a hypervisor company to a company that provides access to and management of clouds, whether public, hybrid (vCloud Air), or private (vCloud Suite).

If this purchase is correctly integrated into AirWatch, VMware may have a one-stop security portal for all mobile devices as well as a secure password store for all your online needs. Now, let’s take this concept one step further. It is not inconceivable that fixed devices could be included, too: think domain passwords and federated resources, node-virtualized resources like Teradata, and mainframe access. People have been searching for the holy grail of single sign-on access for decades. From Microsoft MIIS and Novell Metadirectory to password managers like Citrix Password Manager, the one thing these all had in common was a complexity that denied ease of attainability. Now that things are being “simplified,” perhaps with this acquisition the holy grail may actually be found.

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Tom Howarth
Tom Howarth is an IT Veteran of over 20 years experience and is the owner of PlanetVM.Net Ltd, Tom is a moderator of the VMware Communities forum. He is a contributing author on VMware vSphere(TM) and Virtual Infrastructure Security: Securing ESX and the Virtual Environment, and the forthcoming vSphere a Quick Guide. He regularly does huge virtualization projects for enterprises in the U.K. and elsewhere in EMEA. Tom was Elected vExpert for 2009 and each subsequent year thereafter.

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