VMware Mobile Virtualization Helps Secure Consumerized IT

A great step forward for enabling security and management of devices in the brave new world of consumerized IT

Virtualization has certainly been a hot space over the last few years in-part due to the increased reliance on cloud-computing as well as the need to make data centers more energy efficient. Of course there is also cost savings associated with virtualization – allowing companies to squeeze out maximum performance from each server.

And mobile devices these days are as powerful as servers of less than a decade ago so it is natural to assume that there may be reasons to predict virtualization in the mobile world will become standard.

And that is the hope of VMWare and Hoofar Razavi the company’s Director of Product Management, Mobile Solutions. At Mobile World Congress 2012 in Barcelona he explained to me that smartphones are becoming data endpoints and virtualization will allow the separation of work and personal usage on the device.

The challenge the company sees is the BYOD device culture which is proliferating makes it difficult to manage the devices under your virtual corporate roof. And as such they have a solution which will allow the corporation to centrally manage and provision corporate virtual machines which will be sent to devices wirelessly.

At the moment the solution works with Android ecosystem with no need to modify apps and Razavi says “Stay tuned for iOS.”

At the show, the company released news regarding VMware Horizon Mobile technology powering a new dual-persona device from Telefonica Digital with the popular Samsung Galaxy SII being the first phone to get this advancement. Moreover, device management is cloud-based and available as a monthly subscription.

What are some of the benefits of such a solution to corporations? Well, first of all the work area is encrypted and can be forced to utilize a VPN and moreover the work portion can be remotely disabled and even needs to have a valid lease to operate.

I had a chance to use a virtualized Android device at the company’s booth at MWC 2012 in Barcelona and it didn’t add any unnecessary complexity in the user interface.

Perhaps the only drawback to the technology beyond a slight increase in overhead needed to run the hypervisor is the need to have duplicate programs on both the personal and work partition. In other words if you use the same application to store personal and corporate data you will likely want to have dual instances of the app on both partitions because your company could conceivably flip the switch and turn off your access to your corporate apps and data at their discretion.

Of course the challenge becomes managing user passwords as well, meaning if a user has a Dropbox account which they use for work and it has corporate data and their corporate partition is disabled, they could still theoretically access the data on this service via another device if they know the password.

So the challenge for corporate IT departments is more than just enabling virtualized instances of corporate machines which can run on any user-supplied device, they need a system of password management for cloud-based apps which they are able to manage and change as needed.

Still, this is a great step forward for enabling security and management of devices in the brave new world of consumerized IT.

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