If you’ve paid much attention to the mobile device management market (MDM) lately then you’ve most likely heard of AirWatch. AirWatch was recently listed as a leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for the fifth consecutive year. How is it that this small company based out of Atlanta making so much noise in the MDM space? Well, I was recently given the opportunity to attend an AirWatch certification bootcamp, and after spending a week with AirWatch it all makes sense. First off, AirWatch was acquired by VMware on February 24, 2014 for close to $2 billion dollars in cash. With this acquisition, VMware has expanded their End User Computing (EUC) reach by adding AirWatch to their EUC Computing Group. AirWatch isn’t just making noise in the MDM space, they are leaders and they are defining the future of MDM and enterprise mobility management (EMM) as a whole. AirWatch has a total of around 2,200 employees currently, with offices in London, Bangalore and their headquarters in the business district. Now that you have some background info on the company, I thought I’d share my experience while visiting HQ in Atlanta.
First things first… Bootcamp!
I was officially in town for a bootcamp to gain AirWatch’s Enterprise Mobility Associate certification and to start work on the Enterprise Mobility Professional certification. To be frank, it was a fire hose of information and much of it was difficult to retain for the first two days. Thankfully days 3-5 were hands on and fantastic. Days 1 and 2 were focused more on the associate level exam content and provided a basic overview of the company, the software and how it integrates within a customer’s infrastructure and devices. Days 3-5 were mostly lab based with some lecture sprinkled in. Some of the labs that provided the most experience were the install and configure lab, along with the upgrade lab. AirWatch has a robust lab environment utilizing VMware’s vCloud Director to provide each student in the course their very own vApp which contained an AirWatch Console Server, a SQL 2008 R2 server and a Device Services server. Having access to this lab throughout the week was crucial in preparing for the exam, which I was able to successfully pass by day 4. The trainers were very enthusiastic, seemed to love their job and they all had some form of professional services or consultant experience within the company before becoming a trainer.
My review of the AirWatch bootcamp would not be complete without a review of every aspect from parking to the food, so here we go. Parking was great, the parking garage was really nice and there was always an available spot. The garage was free for use by bootcamp attendees and this came in very handy during some of the heaviest rain I’ve ever experienced. The facilities were very nice, AirWatch has done a great job of building out their space in the building that is shared with a couple of other companies along with Arby’s global support headquarters, unfortunately there was no associated Arby’s restaurant (cruel joke). Lunch and snacks were provided throughout the week, and for the most part it was decent. Most days it was Jason’s Deli, which can get old after a while, and on one of the days it was Domino’s Pizza which was a horrible choice for lunch given the afternoon full of lectures. The AirWatch trainers and other employees were very helpful in getting us what we needed and even gave the group a tour of the facilities.
Shadowing an AirWatch SME
In my second week at AirWatch, I had an opportunity to shadow one of the sharpest minds at AirWatch, Chase Bradley. Chase has been with AirWatch since it’s early beginnings as a WiFi Service Provider called Wandering WiFi. If you want to know something about AirWatch, there wasn’t a question that Chase couldn’t answer for me and that was refreshing. I spent 4 days with Chase in which he went through whiteboarding every aspect of AirWatch from how AirWatch Cloud Connector (ACC) works, to the purpose of their Mobile Access Gateway (MAG) and Secure Email Gateway (SEG). If the prior week’s bootcamp was my undergrad in AirWatch, this second week was more like a post grad experience. Big thanks to Chase and his team for walking me through the ins and outs of AirWatch and allowing me to get a glance of how they interact with customers and prospective clients.
One of the best things about the second week of my experience at AirWatch, was the opportunity I had to build out my own AirWatch lab and do some real hands on work with the technologies. In the bootcamp I was also given a lab to work with, but it wasn’t as free and open as the lab I was working with in the second week. I was able to install AirWatch, build it from scratch and I now still have remote access to it months after I left Atlanta (see disclaimer at the end of the post). AirWatch has a different feeling about it, everyone there is fairly young and seem to be very energetic. Rarely have I interacted with a company and their employees that exhibit a love for their work and enthusiasm for the company’s vision.
After two great weeks in Atlanta working with and learning from AirWatch, I came away with a expanded knowledge base on the software and it’s purpose. I’m currently embedded with a client in the DC Metro area supporting a fairly large implementation of AirWatch and so far it has been amazing. I’m a VMware Sr. Consultant and I’m not supporting vCloud or working daily inside of vCenter, but I haven’t felt left out. AirWatch has a feeling of something that is cutting edge and easily adopted, like vSphere was when it first started to take off… it just makes sense. This post is just a primer on AirWatch with my experience in Atlanta and a few helpful links to get more info. Starting later this week, I will kick off a series of technical hands on posts about AirWatch, from installing it from scratch to administering AirWatch. I will also do a book review of Learning AirWatch by Mark Dunkerley, a great book for admins and AirWatch beginners alike. If there is something particular you would like to see on AirWatch, please leave a comment or reach out to me and I can facilitate it with my home lab. Thanks for reading!
Disclaimer: I’m a VMware employee, and this training and travel were provided to me through my management. You can’t get an AirWatch lab from AirWatch, this was provided to me as an employee. You can however easily build your own AirWatch home lab with VMware Workstation or Fusion.