On Tuesday VMware introduced Horizon App Manager, which is designed to deliver and manage enterprise applications in the cloud for use on mobile devices while maintaining IT control over access to, and use of, those applications. VMware says the platform is needed at enterprises whose workforces increasingly use mobile devices such as smartphones and tablet computers to do their jobs.
Horizon App Manager integrates with IT system directory programs, such as Microsoft's Active Directory, to determine access privileges for employees based on their role in the organization. In order to provide remote access but maintain security, end users don't actually enter their user name and password on their portable device, explains Noah Wasmer, director of advanced development for VMware.
Instead, when an end user requests access to a software-as-a-service (SaaS)-delivered application, a VMware secure token service will ask whether the requester is a valid user. If the user shows up in the directory, he or she is granted a token, written in Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML), and provided access. "We think there's an aggressive new way to do this as a cloud service while still keeping passwords and security behind the firewall," says Wasmer.
Horizon also enables administrators to provision accounts for a growing number of cloud-based applications, including Box.net, Google, Salesforce.com, SlideRocket, VMware Zimbra, WebEx and others. SlideRocket is a recent VMware acquisition that allows workers to collaborate remotely to create a slide presentation (a la PowerPoint).
Because it's all in the cloud, Horizon App Manager makes it easier and less expensive to provide remote application access than some on-premise solutions that take weeks of preparation, require custom coding and cost tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in hardware and other setup costs, says Wasmer. He notes one Fortune 100 company that is juggling 400 SaaS applications for 100,000 end users. These numbers are unusually high, he concedes, but illustrate the complexity companies face.