VMware is aiming to be the go-to solutions provider for bring-your-own-device (BYOD) woes with its virtualization technologies. On Wednesday morning, VMware and Verizon Enterprise Solutions announced a partnership and the immediate availability of two Android-based phones with VMware's dual persona solution.v
VMware's Srinivas Krishnamurti, senior director of mobile product management, End User Computing, says VMware will roll out additional device support for Android throughout the year. Additionally, its iOS solution is currently in beta testing.
IT Thinking on Mobile Device Management Needs to Evolve
"When we've spoken to enterprises over the last couple of years, everybody has been talking about BYOD," Krishnamurti says. "BYOD seems to be all the rage. But what we're realizing is that there's a much more profound change in what's happening. The usage paradigm of employees is changing today. All you did on BlackBerry was work email and [personal information management]. You didn't have a vibrant app ecosystem. Most of these corporate devices only had corporate data on them."
"Now, no matter who owns the device, the majority of these devices will have corporate stuff on them and personal stuff on them," he adds. "That's just a fact of life. How IT thinks about managing mobile devices should also evolve."
Managing the entire device is a legacy of the old BlackBerry model, Krishnamurti says— one that made sense when devices only contained corporate content, but seems heavy-handed when devices carry a mix of important personal and work content.
"Having a virtual workspace available on smartphones using the VMware Horizon platform gives us an unobtrusive way to more securely offer applications to mobile care givers and maintain control of the data while minimizing worry about potential data breaches," says Edward Ricks, CIO of Beaufort Memorial Hospital in South Carolina. "This dual persona approach gives us full control over our data on personally owned or corporate-owned mobile devices without requiring us to unnecessarily manage the entire device."
VMware BYOD Solution Based on Type 2 Hypervisor
Krishnamurti says that the dual persona devices use a type 2 hypervisor to create a virtualized operating system on Android smartphones (with iPhones soon to follow). The virtualized Android workspace is controlled and managed by IT and completely separate from the employee's personal information, applications and data. IT can remotely manage the entire cycle of the workspace. IT can provision it, deploy applications and monitor information flowing to and from the workspace.
Krishnamurti notes that a common complaint about the Android ecosystem is its fragmented nature and the fact that carriers and OEMs release updates and patches to the system slowly (or even only release them with new devices). But with Horizon Mobile, decisions about when to release updates and patches to the corporate workspace is in IT's hands.
"We're able to leverage virtualization capabilities to normalize their version of Android with one that is completely under their control," he says. "The corporate workspace will look exactly the same on every device and behave exactly the same on every device. It's completely under the control of the enterprise. They can upgrade it whenever it's ready."
From the end user perspective, Krishnamurti says, all users do is press an icon on their phone to switch from a personal device to the corporate device. "They're not even going to know that there's virtualization involved."
The dual persona capability is immediately available today on Android-based LG Intuition and Motorola RAZR M smartphones on Verizon, and Krishnamurti expects more VMware-ready smartphones to be available soon.
He wouldn't confirm that VMware is in talks with other U.S. carriers, saying only, "We understand that we need to be available of a broad set of devices across multiple carriers."
Thor Olavsrud covers IT Security, Big Data, Open Source, Microsoft Tools and Servers for CIO.com. Follow Thor on Twitter @ThorOlavsrud. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline, Facebook, Google + and LinkedIn. Email Thor at firstname.lastname@example.org