VMware acquires AirWatch to boost mobile device, application management

The company accelerates its client computing push with the addition of AirWatch's tools

VMware has reached a deal to acquire mobile management specialist AirWatch for US$1.54 billion, as it aims let users manage desktops, mobile devices and applications using its products.

The acquisition of AirWatch extends VMware's product portfolio from data center to end-user devices, and strongly positions the company for an era where all devices run hosted applications, Sanjay Poonen, executive vice president and general manager at VMware's End-User Computing unit, wrote in a blog post on Wednesday.

VMware will acquire AirWatch for approximately $1.175 billion in cash and $365 million of installment payments and assumed unvested equity, it said.

VMware may be best known for its server virtualization products, but the company has recently increased its focus on client computing, as well. The end of the PC era and the arrival of new devices in the enterprise via BYOD programs have opened up new opportunities for vendors to make their mark. The acquisition of AirWatch is just the latest step for VMware. In October, it also acquired desktop-as-a service company Desktone.

VMware's vision for the space -- and one it shares with other vendors -- is to create a secure virtual workspace that allows end users to access applications from desktops, laptops, smartphones and tablets regardless of the time and place.

There is very little product overlap between the two companies, according to Poonen. The acquisition of AirWatch adds management of mobile devices and applications, and the ability to separate individual and corporate data and applications on smartphones and tablets, Poonen said.

AirWatch will become the focal point for all of VMware's mobile development activities going forward, according to Poonen. He didn't offer many details of how products will be integrated, but said that VMware's expansion within the mobile space has been a top priority since he started at VMware last August.

VMware isn't the only company that has started the year by acquiring a company to improve its client computing offerings. Earlier this month, VMware competitor Citrix Systems acquired Framehawk for an undisclosed sum, and will use the company's technology to improve the performance of virtual desktops and applications over wireless networks.

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