Startup Bitzer Mobile Tackles Mobile Virtualization Challenges

The so-called "consumerization of IT" has companies scrambling to find ways to allow employees to securely access corporate data from their personal mobile devices. So far, though, this has proven elusive due in large part to the technical complexity and expense involved.

A startup called Bitzer Mobile says it's found a cost effective way of creating the necessary separation to solve the one device challenge. Bitzer's flagship Enterprise Virtualized Mobility solution (EVM), unveiled in January, uses a virtualization layer to deliver enterprise applications and data to a secure "container" on the mobile device, thereby allowing companies to use their existing remote access infrastructure to mobilize their work forces.

Naeem Zafar, president and CEO of Bitzer Mobile, Sunnyvale, Calif., says the idea is to allow employees to access corporate applications and data while they're on the road, from the comforting familiarity of their own personal device.

"The problem is as soon as you leave you desk, you don’t have access to information and you’re not as productive. And there is no good solution to remote access to enterprise applications and data that meets security needs," Zafar said in an interview.

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Mobile virtualization is a hot industry topic at the moment. At the Mobile World Congress in February, VMware and LG showed off the fruits of a partnership that uses VMware's Mobile Virtualization Platform (MVP) software to run a fully managed corporate PC desktop on an LG Android smartphone. VMware and LG stole the show by demonstrating how two different operating systems can run side-by-side on the same device, with the OS stored locally on an SD card.

Zafar says Bitzer's approach is similar in some ways, but is actually simpler than what VMware brings to the table. "You don't need to run two whole operating systems -- that's overkill," he said. EVM's secure virtual container, which uses the same logic that's being computed on the server, achieves the same end goal of separating enterprise data and making it available on any mobile device, he added.

EVM's virtualized container is deployed as a native mobile application and comes with an IT control panel for provisioning users, devices, access and applications, according to Zafar, who says one main advantage of this approach is a smaller footprint.

"Some companies offer a platform for application development to address this challenge. But for a typical enterprise running 200 apps, including specialized apps for sales managers, for example, it doesn’t make sense to develop custom apps for them," he said.

Next: Bitzer Says Set-Up Process A Breeze

Zafar says EVM is also easy to work with and set up: IT managers choose a template and add simple HTML tags to indicate what data goes into the virtual container, such as offline data storage, for example. "The whole process of mobilizing applications takes a few hours, as opposed to the couple of weeks it normally takes to develop this capability," Zafar said.

Bitzer was founded 15 months ago and doesn't have any paying customers yet, but it's attending industry events such as CTIA 2011 and Interop in order to get its message out to the masses. The company is targeting companies with at least 500 employees, and while it plans to use a direct sales model initially, Zafar says plans are to eventually recruit system integrator partners to help sell and market EVM.

In the meantime, Bitzer is offering a free EVM kit that lets companies mobilize and host one application. Later on, Bitzer will license EVM's virtual container and IT control panel on a white label basis and charge $10 per user monthly. Higher-end management and security features will cost more, says Zafar.