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Our journey to autonomous workspaces: VMware Explore 2022 update

As we kick off our European edition of VMware Explore 2022 in Barcelona, I am more excited than ever about our latest announcements in end-user computing (EUC). In one of our most important announcements in the U.S., the Anywhere Workspace solutions keynote introduced the EUC’s North Star vision of Autonomous Workspaces. We are continuing to share this vision today in Barcelona.

Within the keynote demos we saw that autonomous workspaces are, in principle, an evolution from rules-based automation flows that are defined by IT to context-based actions that are powered by data science and proactively maintain a desired state of the workspace, with little to no human intervention. In this article, I want to explain what this means and how we are bringing this vision to life in the VMware Anywhere Workspace platform.

Why autonomous workspaces?

Let’s start by understanding why we believe autonomous workspaces are the future work paradigm. Clearly, the shift to remote work in 2020 accelerated a long-term organizational change to a hybrid work model. Some workers have gone back to their work locations, but many remain remote. In fact, most U.S. companies indicate they are implementing or planning to implement a hybrid work model moving forward — a strategy that 80 percent of organizations agree will help attract diverse talent pools.

However, implementing a hybrid work model also means new challenges for IT, with 98 percent of IT organizations expecting operational complexities. Legacy tooling and manual IT tasks result in sub-optimal experiences and poor security in supporting a distributed workforce.

As a result, improving the IT organization’s operational efficiency has become a top IT priority for end-user computing teams. And this is where automation that is powered by data science — that is, autonomous workspaces — can help transform the IT workforce and achieve desired operational agility.

What is VMware doing to help customers?

While the autonomous workspaces vision is novel, the journey itself for VMware isn’t. In fact, the EUC team has progressively delivered IT solutions to reduce complexity and drive modernization.

The first step in this journey was to help IT deal with a heterogeneous ecosystem of management, security, line of business, and infrastructure tools that often do not talk to each other. Here, the Anywhere Workspace platform streamlines IT operations and reduces TCO through a unified, cross-cloud IT administrative experience. For example, VMware Workspace ONE UEM — an industry-leading solution within the platform — unifies management and security, thus reducing the cost of endpoint diversity. Similarly, the platform’s virtual desktop and apps solution, VMware Horizon, unifies management across public or hybrid cloud infrastructure through modern SaaS control plane services.

What follows unification is a need for simplicity and avoiding the “task fatigue” of managing across platform types, apps, and use-cases. Once again within the Anywhere Workspace platform, simplicity via automation is built into every aspect of the IT admin and end-user experience. For example, we introduced a low-code, drag-and-drop administrative experience with Workspace ONE Freestyle Orchestrator. This orchestration fabric can bridge across IT systems and help automate complex and repetitive IT processes. To date, thousands of customers have already run a combined 30+ million workflows and gained more control and predictability over their repetitive manual tasks.

And now, the next leap in the journey is of course autonomy, which is unlocked by combining the existing automation framework with a rich data sciences engine. Indeed, a central tenet of autonomous workspaces is being context aware — always — with continuous access to data and insights.  

For the Anywhere Workspace platform, this central data sciences engine lives within Workspace ONE Intelligence. It uses AI/ML algorithms to continuously analyze complex data sets and deliver rich insights and recommendations for IT. When combined with the unified orchestration and automation framework, the platform helps drive proactive, data-driven outcomes across management, security, and end-user experience.

Automation does not equal autonomy

While automation has become an IT industry buzzword with every vendor touting it as one of their product’s strengths (and let’s admit that we have been guilty, too), I do believe that our vision for autonomous workspaces is a cut above the rest.

Why? Because automation and autonomy are not interchangeable concepts. A simple analogy to explain the difference is turning on the cruise-control function in your car — an automated way to maintain speed and distance in a lane — versus (in the future) activating full self-driving mode — an autonomous way to get you from point A to B with minimal human intervention.

In principle, what we are unleashing in the Anywhere Workspace platform is this “full self-driving” autonomous digital super-admin that uses context (through data) to enable self-configuring, self-healing, and self-securing outcomes. Let’s look at a few examples:

Self-configuring

This example, from our keynote at Explore US, shows how Workspace ONE uses autonomy to self-configure a user’s workspace and returns the device to a desired state when changes occur. This eliminates the need for reactive or after-the-fact checks on policy drifts and configurations to bring the device back to compliance.

Self-healing

Next, the demo below shows Workspace ONE combining the power of data science and automation to intelligently detect and isolate an end-user experience incident, accelerate change management, and auto-remediate (self-healing) the issue to drive higher XLAs.

Self-securing

Last, we show how Workspace ONE proactively identifies mobile threats and takes context-driven quarantine and remediation actions to again self-secure the workspace.

The context or source of threat data in this example was from our recently released Workspace ONE Mobile Threat Defense (MTD) solution. Workspace ONE can similarly orchestrate threat data from third-party sources such as NIST/NVD or Trust Network partners to identify risky endpoints and deliver remediations such as OS and app patches proactively to bring them back to compliance.

Following our North Star

For EUC, the capabilities supporting autonomous workspaces has only just begun. These demos show glimpses of what we currently support or what is imminent for the platform. There’s clearly much more to come, so stay tuned as we continue to follow our North Star of autonomous workspaces!

If you haven’t already, I encourage you to watch the recording of the Anywhere Workspace solutions keynote to learn how you can rely on VMware EUC solutions to shoulder your IT operational burden, thus empowering your technical workforce to drive higher-value business outcomes.


For more VMware Explore Europe news, see our VMware Explore 2022 Europe Anywhere Workspace, Workspace ONE, and Horizon announcements overview and all the articles in our VMware Explore 2022 category.