VMware’s Workspace ONE is touted as a digital workspace platform that delivers any app on any device. What that means behind the buzzwords is that workspace one helps organizations deliver a consistent desktop-like experience to users no matter what device they’re connecting with. If that sounds much like the promise of virtual desktops, you’d be correct. While the VDI acronym has somewhat fallen out of favor in recent years, vendors are still answering the calls of risk-averse and hyper-conservative organizations who ask for virtual desktops.

Which is a terrible shame, in my view, because I see virtual desktops as absolutely the wrong approach. True, in its defense, the notion of VDI opens up cross-platform access for legacy applications on more modern devices and form-factors. But my strongly felt perspective is that resorting to VDI to answer the issues around inflexible and monolithic enterprise software is very much treating the symptoms and not the cause – in my view, the problem here is that traditional enterprise software wasn’t conceived in the context of multiple devices, form factors, and touch points, and this core issue is the one which needs to be resolved.

Which is why I’m so enamored with vendors such as Capriza and Sapho, whose approach to resolving the problems with legacy software is to simply wrap them in an integration layer that then allows true mobile applications and flows to be delivered to users. In my mind, this approach answers the needs of organizations which simply can’t move from their old and ugly monolithic software, but who want to offer contextually-specific “mobile moments” to their users.

So given this context, I’m a little surprised to hear that Sapho has just announced an integration of its portal within VMware Workspace ONE. The idea of the integration is that organizations who are delivering virtual desktops to their users via Workspace ONE will be able to also build and deliver these Sapho-style applications within that platform.

A riddle, within an enigma

So, to clarify: a vendor that allows organizations to finally break free of monolithic apps, at least when it comes to the user experience, is integrating deeply into a platform that lets recalcitrant CTO’s perpetuate that legacy way of thinking. How does that work?

From the launch information:

When using Sapho with VMware, relevant actions are surfaced to employees in their Workspace ONE experience enabling them to be productive from anywhere, on any device. These micro apps provide employees proactive notifications about interesting system data, actions that need to be completed, and changes in business data that require attention.

Unsurprisingly, Sapho is talking up the benefits of this partnership. per its CEO, Fouad ElNaggar:

VMware and Sapho are partnering because of our shared belief that the future of work will be defined by the ability for employees to securely work anywhere using intelligent, event-driven micro applications that reduce the complexity of today’s enterprise software; this complexity is blocking the true productivity gains we should be seeing from the trillions of dollars that have been invested in IT. By integrating Sapho and Workspace ONE, customers can reinvent how employees interact with their enterprise systems using micro apps that are easy to use, have an intelligent, consumer-like user experience, and are available anywhere. We are excited to be working with a partner who shares our view of the future.”


So I get that VMware is a huge player and that any integration into a VMware product will give a company like Sapho some reflected glory. But there’s a disconnect here – Sapho is all about ending the tyranny of legacy applications and legacy form factors. VDI is all about perpetuating those dated and failed approaches. While this might be a convenient marketing collaboration, at a product and customer level, it’s actually counter-productive. I’m not liking what I see here, and suspect that the market will be pretty dismissive of it also.

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

  • Appreciate the article, Ben, and the points you made on the need to modernize outdated enterprise systems are right on. We see this partnership with VMware as something that does just that. Now, unlike what you outlined above, Sapho’s mission is not to end legacy systems altogether, but instead, to make all systems (including legacy and more recent SaaS applications) easy to use by breaking down complex workflows into simple, atomic units of work and delivering them to employees over any channel through micro apps. As VMware announced new channels being added to Workspace ONE (such as mobile flows) through which it can reach customers, Sapho wanted to ensure that we could deliver our micro apps into those channels as well. If you’d like to read more about how we’re revitalizing outdated software, not replacing it, I wrote about it on Sapho’s blog here: https://blog.sapho.com/modernizing-it-three-things-companies-should-do-instead-of-ripping-out-legacy-systems

  • Gary Sturdivant |

    I am afraid there is confusion about what Workspace ONE is. Workspace ONE is *not* VDI. That product at VMware is called Horizon (formerly known as View). To be fair, both are products within the End User Computing business unit, however.

    Workspace ONE is more akin to Okta. It provides a secure means via single sign-on to applications that have been integrated into it, thus providing a common entry point within a company’s infrastructure to those applications where the user only needs to sign into Workspace ONE to gain access to all the integrated apps. VMware uses it internally and I can attest to it simplifying getting to a large variety of applications from many vendors without having to separately sign in to each one when you need to use it. I used to manage the server R&D group in Palo Alto for the View/Horizon VDI product and worked with the people working on what is now called Workspace ONE. The two are indeed integrated so that Workspace ONE can launch Horizon directly as an application, but Workspace ONE is a platform that securely delivers a lot more than just VDI.

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