VMware is continuing its campaign to bake security into its virtual desktop application platform via an alliance with Okta, a provider of identity management software delivered as a cloud service.
Renu Upadhyay, senior director of product marketing for end user computing at VMware, said that while the on-premises version of VMware Workspace One already includes identity management capabilities, the alliance with Okta will extend those capabilities via an Okta cloud service that can be managed centrally. VMware’s approach to identity management is device-centric, while Okta adds a user-centric approach that gives IT organizations the ability the ability to apply policies based on an individual’s role.
VMware has been making a case for employing desktop virtualization to provide a zero-trust application environment that is inherently more secure because all the applications are centrally provisioned and managed by the IT organization, not loaded onto local PCs by users. As part of that effort, VMware is committed to developing an open cybersecurity ecosystem via partnerships, said Upadhyay.
The alliance with Okta, however, goes well beyond simple integration of application programming interfaces (APIs), she noted. Applications developed by Okta using the secure access markup language (SAML) will run directly within VMware Workspace One to SAML applications to create a seamless user experience that eliminates the need to rely on cumbersome passwords. Policies then can be applied based on credentials, type of device, location, network or protocol being used by the application or browser. VMware also expects that its customers also will want to take advantage of more than 5,500 integrations with other applications that Okta has developed.
Short of locking down an entire IT environment, VMware is advocating for a self-service approach to desktop applications that allows users to utilize applications that have been pre-approved by the internal IT organization. Those applications are then accessed via VMware virtual machines running on a server, usually located in a data center.
Adoption of desktop virtualization has been slight over the last decade, largely due to complexity and cost. But VMware is betting that as the number of cyberattacks aimed directly at endpoints continues to increase, interest in desktop virtualization as a means for hardening the overall IT environment will increase.
The cultural issue that VMware faces is that in many enterprises, the IT teams that manage desktops are not the same individuals that manage virtual machines on desktops, and many don’t want to potentially cede desktop ownership to another IT team. VMware is hoping that cybersecurity professionals will lend their weight to the debate in a way that favors increased reliance on desktop virtualization.
It’s not clear yet just how many enterprise IT organizations are considering desktop virtualization as part of a larger cybersecurity strategy. But as VMware continues to expand the number of cybersecurity vendors participating in the VMware Workspace One ecosystem, awareness of cybersecurity merits of desktop virtualization should, at the very least, continue to expand.