Bring your own device policies, already buoyed by rapid uptake of smartphones and tablets, may gather additional momentum as prominent technology vendors devote attention to making mobile hardware valuable in the workplace. Dropbox for Business has made several big acquisitions related to BYOD, with the aim of helping businesses transition to multi-device, highly consumerized IT environments. Meanwhile, Apple has included advanced support for email, device enrollment and calendar collaboration in iOS 8, making the mobile OS more amenable to BYOD than ever.
It’s clear that BYOD isn’t going away. However, organizations are still adjusting to the new pressures that the phenomenon places on data control, security and compliance. While major firms continue to work on BYOD-centric solutions, enterprises have to assess their mobility needs and decide whether to implement measures such as desktop virtualization to enable BYOD.
Virtualization makes BYOD more secure for leading steel producer
The central issue with any BYOD policy is the transfer of control – over hardware, software and data – from the IT department to employees, who may be less scrupulous in terms of what applications they use. For example, files that should remain behind the company firewall may be shared with consumer-facing cloud services. Mobile devices enable such habits, even as they hold potential to enhance collaboration and remote work.
Fortunately, desktop virtualization facilitates a middle ground between BYOD adoption and enterprise security. Rather than let each endpoint have its own OS and applications, IT departments distribute a single desktop experience via a virtual machine. Devices connect to the VM securely and gain access to approved software. Data is not retained on user hardware after a session ends.
Essar Group, a conglomerate involved in steel, oil and telecom services, turned to desktop virtualization to standardize and secure its employees’ mobile experience when working with company assets. Ultimately, it moved 5,000 users to its new virtualized platform.
“Security of data was the primary point of scope for looking for [a] desktop virtualization solution,” Jayantha Prabhu, CTO at the Essar Group, told Dataquest. “We had a good experience of the ability to control the data at the disposal of the employee when we deployed the same for some of our teams which handled data which was very critical both from a confidentiality and a brand perspective. We had around 3,000 BlackBerry users and more than 2,000 people with tablets, and with all the applications being accessed on the tablets, it was tough to ensure security of critical information.”
Desktop virtualization is a powerful tool for securing data and controlling mobile devices, but its benefits don’t stop there. Other perks include:
- Reduced power consumption through the use of thin clients (machines that depend on a server for most or all of their software).
- Centralized management of software and devices, with much more efficient patch distribution and application upgrades.
- Support for remote collaboration since users can get the same experience from any Internet-enabled device.
With a broad set of advantages for organizations in finance, healthcare, education and other sectors, desktop virtualization is a practical, versatile way to incorporate BYOD while maintaining the integrity of company data.