Reinventing Identity as the Physical Workspace Fades Away

Mobility is transforming the idea of the workplace, enabling flexible work styles and fundamentally changing the way people work. This isn’t “new news.” What is noteworthy, however, is the vision VMware is set to deliver on: an entire digital workspace solution that, as Sumit Dhawan, VMware’s senior vice president and general manager of EUC desktop products, explains, is unique in its approach to delivering the simple and “beautiful” consumer experience workers are accustomed to, but in a secure management system that empowers IT to manage, build, and continue to innovate.

Employee Access and the Digital Workspace

Sumit Dhawan, Senior Vice President and General Manager of End-User Computing

Sumit Dhawan, Senior Vice President and General Manager of End-User Computing

According to Dhawan, employees today begin engaging with their companies long before their first day in the office, so the traditional role of IT at work needs to shift to meet this change. Before employees step into their office, if they even step into a physical workplace, they are already engaging with different digital devices, systems of record, and online employment contracts. They are expected to be productive from Day 1. “The challenge for our customers,” says Dhawan, “is that there may no longer be a fixed physical workplace, but instead, a digital workspace.”  

Conditional Access and the Digital Workspace

VMware’s concept of the digital workspace takes into account that employees need to be able to use different devices that are no longer controlled and defined by IT. The way people access applications across multiple platforms must also be redefined. “The digital workspace requires a different level of experience for the end user,” Dhawan says. “The bar has been set very high by consumer technology. Employees expect to have that same kind of experience in their workspace.” This is especially true in recruiting millennials, who tend to blur distinctions between personal and company devices and time.

“The challenge for IT,” says Dhawan, “is that the organization needs to balance agility and security, corporate controls, and more flexible access policies.” This is where the concept of “conditional access” becomes so important. “Conditional access,” Dhawan says, “lets IT determine in what scenario employees can access certain apps or data. It also may impose restrictive access on a location or device that may not be trusted by IT.” Conditional access goes to the heart of how VMware redefines identity and identity management in the digital workspace and the cloud era.

Identity in the Digital Workspace

The traditional concept of identity and access management defines identity as a function of security technologies. Along with all appropriate policies, an employee’s identity sits in the primary directory of the enterprise data center. “In the digital workspace, where perimeters of how and where applications and data exist become fluid, and access is not just on-premises but boundaryless,” Dhawan says, “identity must encompass different locations, devices, and massive changes in services running across multiple clouds, even public clouds where every new service already carries it’s own directory. In this environment, no single directory can possibly work.”

VMware’s concept of identity is unique. “Identity must be at the center of the digital workspace,” says Dhawan. “The end user must be the core of how our customers define their digital workspace and mobile platforms.” And this, too, changes the meaning of identity and identity management.

Identity Management in the Cloud Era

In the past, identity most often meant that users set up their individual credentials on-premises. But in the cloud era, users are faced with having to set up multiple credentials in multiple directories. VMware’s federation approach offers a far better solution.

Using conditional access technology, IT now determines—based on criteria such as the user’s role, location, device types, and so on—which apps or credentials can be provisioned, which apps can be accessed, and what governance is required. “Access management is now built in as the core component,” says Dhawan. “It is not just how security is determined, but how end-user identity is defined.”

“Customers no longer have to view the two technologies of mobility management and identity management as separate silos,” Dhawan concludes. “VMware has brought mobility and the digital workspace together with security and identity management.” For organizations worldwide, it’s a solution that will transform how they understand the meaning of identity, and the concept of identity management in the digital workspace and cloud era.