VMware has announced the first version of a product originally designed to make iPhones a virtual part of an enterprise network, but which may turn into a central clearinghouse to manage identities across many cloud-computing and virtual-server platforms.
Project Horizon was announced in August of last year as the basis of a desktop-virtualization product plan that could put a hypervisor on almost any mobile device, making it into a virtual desktop connected securely to VMware vSphere virtual-server networks.
Though it released Citrix, which has long offered clients for every major mobile client.
VMware Horizon App Manager goes beyond just connecting devices to a virtual server, however, by creating a platform designed as an application portal that also includes all the elements necessary to collect, integrate and disseminate identity and login data to external SAAS or cloud applications as well as a range of internal applications.
It includes a server-based component that includes APIs and direct support for Microsoft's Active Director, SAML (Security Access Markup Language) and other identity- and security-data exchange formats.
That function makes it easier for end users to use mobile devices to log in to any part of a company's infrastructure – whether based in internal data-center or external cloud – and to make authentication automatic for end users inside the firewall who need to access apps or infrastructure outside.
That function is designed to address the increasing amount of manual labor required to maintain user identity profiles on Salesforce, Amazon EC2, Google Apps, Box.net, WebEx and WorkDay and a range of other external IT services, according to Noah Wasmer, director of advanced development at VMware.
VMware itself uses 29 external SAAS applications, which is only average for large corporations.
"We've talked to customers who have 350, 400 external apps they have to keep track of," Wasmer said. "The amount of work involved in keeping all the profiles up to data and identities current is huge."
The first version of Horizon App Manager also lives in the cloud, and primarily handles single-sign-on to other apps in the cloud.
As the number of VMware-virtualized connected tablets, phones and other devices increases, so will Horizon's ability to handle authentication, provisioning and data security for them, Wasmer said.
It will also become a primary authentication method for VMware's Cloud Foundry cloud service as well as vSphere applications.
Updates due within the next few months will also extend single sign-on to Citrix and Microsoft applications beyond Active Directory, eventually becoming a de facto hub to integrate user profiles, login data, security and access policies and other security and administration functions that are absolute requirements for the enterprise, but that exist right now primarily as single-vendor solutions.
Oh, Horizon App Manager will also fulfill its original function, Wasmer said, by presenting a self-serve app market end users can access to create new connections to or link with both internal and external applications.
It has been in beta testing for four months, should be available now for favored users, and will go into general availability later this year. It will cost $30 per user per year.