VMware: Answer To The BYOD Headache?

BYOD

Most enterprise IT managers will have had to attempt to deal with the security headaches introduced by the boom in smartphones in recent years but rather than impose a ban on personal devices in the workplace, many are looking to deploy mobile virtualisation solutions across the workplace.

With more and more employees using their own personal devices to access email and other potentially sensitive corporate data the lack of control IT staff have over the security of such devices is alarming.

Firms face two options in this scenario. Firstly, personal devices could be banned in the workplace. This is not a popular option, with few firms enforcing a blanket ban on smartphones or other personal devices. A second possible solution is to make use of VMware’s Mobile Virtual Platform, MVP which allows firms to run a virtual machine on an employee’s smartphone, effectively making one phone into two.

The virtual machine gives the IT department the tight control over corporate security and ensuring only authorised applications are used. It also means that should the phone be lost data can be secured or should an employee get fired it can be remotely wiped, a la Eric Daniels in Margin Call.

Employees retain a sense of freedom as they are still able to do as they wish with the personal side of their device.

O2’s parent company Telefonica recently announced that it would roll-out a service called “Dual Persona” which makes use of VMware’s MVP. Telefonica says MVP allows users to change between the two phones easily: just select an icon on the device’s homescreen.

VMware’s service is delivered through the cloud allowing firms to give access to apps and data “independent of network device” and it says, allows the whole thing to be deployed with no fuss and for very little cost. As long as your device isn’t an iPhone of course, at present MVP only supports Android devices, VMware is working on its iOS build but Apple’s paranoia makes this level of integration with the OS incredibly tricky.

The other, admittedly large hurdle MVP has to overcome or rather try and avoid is Android’s biggest issue, fragmentation of the OS. There are so many different builds running at once, VMware will need to stay on its game to stay on top. If it doesn’t, then MVP may well become just another headache for IT.

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Neil Hawkins is a contributing editor for consumer information site Choose (follow @choosenet). He specialises in covering broadband industry debates for the home media section, as well as commentary on market research and consumer rights issues - find more on choose.net.