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Not long ago, businesspeople were carrying around two devices: one for work and the other containing the digital content of their personal lives. But this juggling of devices, while necessary for security reasons, was a very clunky solution to the problem.
Plus, it made people look kind of silly -- like bumbling technology caricatures swimming in airs of self-importance.
Mobile virtualization, a term used to describe various technologies that strike the long sought after balance between device security and usability, stands to change all that.
By dividing a device into two parts, one for work and the other for one's personal life, mobile virtualization addresses the IT risks that stem from the bring-your-own-device phenomenon while allowing the productivity benefits of the trend to flourish within organizations.
[Related: VMware On Mobile Virtualization, BYOD]
"Security has, and will be, at the top of mind when thinking of mobile devices, but often it's seen at odds with end-user usability," said Jason Nash, data center solutions principal at Varrow, a Greensboro, N.C.-based virtualization solution provider.
Vendors have different approaches to mobile virtualization, but all strive for an identical look and feel across smartphones, tablets and notebook PCs. "It also needs to be easily provisioned and secured by corporate IT, with minimal effort from the end user," said Paul Kunze, director at IntraSystems, a Braintree, Mass.-based solution provider.
Dan Weiss, CEO and co-founder of Varrow, says mobile virtualization will clear up the gray area that currently exists within organizations that have given up trying to stop their employees from using personal devices at work.
"We have control -- or perceived control -- when it comes to Windows. And we have lots of tools that we are familiar and confident with to manage desktops and user's data," Weiss said. "What we don't have is a lot of control over the BYOD concept. If employees are using apps and accessing the corporate network with their own devices, there's not an easy way to manage a device that the company doesn't own."
Mobile hypervisor, which allows employees to purchase their own mobile device and operate a separate OS that's exclusively for corporate apps, seems to be the answer to this problem, though not without some debate.
There are two types of mobile hypervisor: Type 1, also known as "bare metal," operates at the hardware level and is installed by the mobile device OEM; and Type 2, which runs as a secure application on the device. Type 1 is regarded as more secure but takes longer to implement, while Type 2 is seen as offering greater flexibility.
In the Type 1 camp is Red Bend Software, a Waltham, Mass.-based vendor whose vLogix Mobile 5.0 product is used by Panasonic and other Android OEMs, as well as carriers. Open Kernel Labs, another Type 1 vendor, is working with LG to develop Android smartphones with hardened security for the Department Of Defense.