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The use of extended reality (XR) in the enterprise and the number of relevant use cases is rising rapidly. But with this growth comes new challenges. When expanding the adoption of XR technology at scale, it can be difficult to treat XR-related hardware like any other enterprise endpoint given their unique nature.  

XR device types 

There are two types of devices generally associated with XR technology:

  • Virtual reality: These devices are headsets worn by the user along with hand-held controllers. The headsets completely replace the user's vision and the controllers provide the ability to interact with the virtual environment.
  • Augmented reality: These devices can be headsets or screens like smartphones and tablets that display the user's real-world environment with additional contextual data overlaid on top.

These devices come in a number of different styles: tethered (connected to a computer via a USB cable) or standalone (wireless), consumer or business-focused (quality of hardware and management capabilities), Android or Windows-based (with more OS types to come), single-user or shared-device, etc. There are substantial differences between consumer and enterprise-orientated devices, so understanding the use case is important to ensure the right type of device is selected.

Challenges of XR technology

Regardless of the device type and style, several issues can arise when growing XR within the enterprise:

  • Acquisition rates can be rapid and unchecked. Much like Tribbles, or Gremlins when they get wet, the number of XR devices can explode rapidly. Additionally, the purchases are likely to be done by individual departments and unknown to IT even after they are joined to the network.
  • Tracking the location and status of XR devices can be difficult. XR devices are portable and prone to being carried between locations. While corporate phones are almost always managed by IT to mitigate these issues, the entry method of XR devices described above circumvents that control.
  • Managing device firmware, applications, and content is a manual process. By default, many system updates and apps purchased from the OEM's app store can often be managed over the network, but the user must manually initiate them and there is no enforcement method to ensure updates are applied. Internally developed apps and other content (videos, etc.) have to be delivered and updated via connecting the device to a laptop/desktop via a USB cable. At enterprise scale these processes become an overwhelming burden, resulting in configuration drift and security risk.
  • Providing user support is difficult. The inability to remote screen share/view and lack of file system access greatly hinder troubleshooting and any form of remote support, leaving users to bring devices to the help desk for any needed assistance.

Managing XR devices with VMware

Fortunately, most XR devices are built on mobile operating systems, so unified endpoint management (UEM) solutions, such as VMware Workspace ONE, can solve these issues and make these devices first-class citizens in the overall endpoint estate.

Using the same tool to manage XR, Android and Windows devices accelerates adoption and takes advantage of existing skill sets and investments. Onboarding, configuring, managing and securing XR devices can be as simple as scanning a QR code. Full device configurations, WiFi profiles, certificates and remote support capabilities can be automatically applied with constant evaluation and remediation, as needed, to ensure device compliance. Applications and other content such as videos, pictures and documents can be automatically deployed and updated "over the air" with no user intervention required. Location and status management helps users and IT ascertain where and when it was last seen so the devices can be protected. Additionally, contextual reporting may be performed similarly to other managed endpoints to provide a complete picture of the endpoint estate.

View a current listing of XR devices supported by VMware Workspace ONE UEM here

Want to learn more about XR technology? 

While configuring, managing, and securing XR devices is critical, it is also important to provide a consistent and compelling user experience along with expanded functionality to drive value of XR in the enterprise. 

Realize the full value of XR with VMware Workspace ONE XR Hub. Read article