VMware acquires AetherPal for mobile support via screen viewing/remote control

An important tool to keep mission-critical mobile use cases running in the field.

On Tuesday, February 5, VMware announced their plans to buy AetherPal, with the acquisition becoming official on Thursday. They did not disclose terms of the deal.

Given that we haven’t looked at mobile remote control and screen viewing in a while, we reached out and talked to Adam Rykowski, VP of product management for Workspace ONE.

AetherPal overview

First, a little background on a company many might not have heard about before. AetherPal has been around since 2009 and was founded by Deepak Gonsalves and Ron Parmar in New Jersey. According to Crunchbase, the company raised $6 million back in 2013, but nothing since. AetherPal has fewer than 100 employees, who will be joining VMware’s End User Computing team.

AetherPal primarily helps retail, healthcare, logistics, and manufacturing verticals where frontline mobile device uptime is important. They also have a lot of customers from carriers, like AT&T, which offered the Remote Support solution for businesses customers. Adam told me they also had some non-retail type customers that they’ll continue to support post-acquisition.

The small company has two products for organizations: GuideMe, which provides users with tutorials, and Remote Support, which allows IT to remotely view and control mobile devices to troubleshoot problems so users can stay out in the field longer. IT can view device screens in real time from any web browser, while also seeing device information like hardware and OS (e.g., memory, storage, network, etc.) quicker than an employee would be able to relay that in a call.

It’s not an unexpected acquisition since VMware has been reselling AetherPal’s Remote Support solution for nearly two years. Workspace ONE customers could purchase their services as an add-on called Workspace ONE Advanced Remote Management.Remote viewing and control capabilities

AetherPal currently supports Android devices (rugged devices like Zebra and more, too), as well as Windows CE and Windows Mobile. Adam says they’re working on adding support for iOS, Mac, and Windows. Support for more operating systems beyond that are in the roadmap, including support for IoT and Linux (just don’t expect this any time soon).

For Android and Windows Mobile devices, AetherPal Remote Support allows IT remote viewing and remote control. On Android devices, IT access can be limited to just a user’s work apps. Due to Apple limitations, iOS will only allow for full-device remote viewing—not remote control. AetherPal uses ReplayKit, which was introduced back in iOS 9 and was originally designed for game streaming, but use was eventually expanded to additional apps.

AetherPal Remote Support remains an option even for BYOD and COPE deployments. For these organizations, AetherPal will run in Attended Mode, which requires more steps on the part of the user. IT cannot establish a remote session without user authorization, instead users will initiate support requests, and then they receive a notification that they’ll have to accept before the remote session begins. Additionally, no user information is stored from the session.

VMware roadmap plans

Adam explained that part of the reason for the acquisition is the potential to expand beyond rugged devices and frontline workers to knowledge workers and support employees.

I asked about the possibility of releasing an AetherPal SDK, but Adam said that wasn’t currently in the roadmap. They have discussed the possibility, however. So, maybe much further down the road VMware could do this. We’ll see.

Lastly, he told me that AetherPal has some mobile tech they’ve worked on but that never made it to market; VMware will be interested to see if any of that could become useful now. Adam didn’t provide any specifics, alas.

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