BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) is a buzzword we have heard in IT and security circles for years. It speaks to questions that every business leader and IT executive must ask and answer: how do we secure and protect the growing number of mobile technologies (personal or company issued) employees want to use at work? How do we give a mobile, tech-centric workforce what it needs to succeed without putting our data and company at risk?
The threat of hacks and data breeches has never been higher, yet few businesses have comprehensive solutions in place for BYOD technologies. Will the BYOD question remain unresolved—and businesses remain at risk—or is there hope on the horizon? I believe there is more than hope and that VMI (virtual mobile infrastructure) offers the BYOD security and flexibility both businesses and employees have long been seeking.
From VDI to VMI
With desktops and laptops, we have VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure), published apps and file collaboration tools. These are all tools businesses can and do use to reduce administration and support costs and improve security and oversight. But what about mobile? Mobile devices are the technologies more and more people want to use at work. However, mobile users can’t use the same image the way they can with desktops and laptops using VDI. Smartphones and tablets offer too much variation in applications and personal settings. The mobile user experience in a virtual infrastructure model would suffer and so would employee performance.
However, it’s hard to deny the security advantage of virtual infrastructure. Having only one image from a secure server to manage across all mobile devices is a very secure and very manageable proposition. Does a virtual infrastructure operating system for mobile devices (VMI) sound too good to be true? It just so happens that it’s not. In fact, VMI technologies are advancing quickly and have already been adopted by the Government Vertical, and Corporate America will follow suit as the technology improves in the year ahead. Here’s why:
VMI very closely resembles VDI but for mobile devices. Currently the only operating system that VMI can use is Android since IOS is unable to run as a virtual model. However, the VMI image can be delivered to any mobile device, from Android phones and iPhones to Windows phones and all manner of tablets.
VMI runs on a virtual machine and is deployed via a client on the mobile device through secure remote communications protocol. Businesses control and secure the virtual machine, which greatly reduces the risk of hacks and data theft.
VMI does not restrict the capabilities of mobile devices. VMI apps can even utilize the local device hardware, such as GPS and cameras, in order to make full use of the technology. With VMI, users also have the option of switching their image from “work” to “personal,” creating a simple way to separate mobile work and play.
With players such as Hypori, Nubo, Raytheon, Remotium, Trend Micro, and Sierraware working hard to develop leading VMI solutions, there will be plenty of solutions for businesses to choose from in the years ahead. This early competition for market share is another example of how important the technology is, which is why I believe we will start to see more and more companies move to this technology in the next two years.
It’s Got IDS’ Attention
Securing mobile devices and building BYOD solutions has been an important focus at IDS and our clients for many years. Clients have relied on our expertise in tools like MaaS360, AirWatch, XenMobile and MobileIron. Our engineers are currently testing VMI for enterprise and commercial use and we see great promise.
How Will Your Business Adapt?
As we have seen with BYOD, businesses have a variety of ways to approach mobile device usage and security. VMI may offer the security and flexibility your business needs or it could be limiting to your needs and goals. Either way, I think it’s technology well worth considering as mobile technologies evolve and increase. Why limit the way employees work when you might be able to support and secure it with VMI technology?