When you mention Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), it's natural for Mobile Device Management (MDM) to be the next words of the discussion. However, Splashtop and Good are partnering on Splashtop for Good which provides a secure remote desktop/application delivery solution that might be a BYOD choice for certain vertical markets.
Recently, I had the opportunity to get an introduction to Splashtop for Good from Mark Lee, the co-founder and CEO of Splashtop, Inc. This new offering combines the Splashtop Remote Desktop for Business with the Good Technology security platform to offer an application delivery platform for mobile users.
Inside Splashtop for Good
The combination of Splashtop for Business as a remote desktop and the Good Technology Platform is interesting from a solution perspective. First, it's not an MDM platform. However, it does integrate with a number of popular MDM solutions and could be a solution for BYOD programs that support users who require access to their desktop PCs for resource intensive applications.
Key features of this solution include:
- Secure framework for application delivery that runs through the Good Technology Network Operations Center (NOC), offering a secure tunnel for all data transfers
- Active Directory (AD) integration
- Relay infrastructure that takes advantage of the Amazon Cloud
- Optimization for reliable connections over lower bandwidth 3G and 4G connections
- Secure connections providing SSL/AES 256-bit encryption, network proxies, SSL certificates, MAC address filtering, and tunneling through the Good NOC
- Mobile device provisioning through Good Dynamics Security and the Good NOC for on-device application security and control
- On-premise deployment on Windows servers behind your corporate firewall
- Centralized policy-based control for setting user and device access policies, creating/importing SSL certificates, and activating/deactivating users and devices
AD support is a notable feature, just as it is in Centrify for Mobile 2013. Extending existing infrastructure to manage BYOD device access and security makes financial and personnel sense if the expertise is already in house. AD also should have some trust with IT security, corporate stakeholders, and even compliance auditors, so supporting BYOD using AD-based security is a selling point.
When a user logs into the Splashtop for Good app on their iPad, they are accessing their corporate PC. While I didn't have a chance to test out Splashtop for Good access scenarios, the quality of connection is going to make or break this solution, especially for accessing large files like AutoCAD or images. Access might also include:
- Microsoft Office and internal back office applications
- Desktop applications such as AutoCAD that aren't mobile-friendly
- Internal files residing on the local PC or a network file share
- Internal SharePoint sites
Remote desktops and BYOD
While I'm partial to Desktop as a Service (DaaS), as a potential solution for BYOD, Splashtop for Good is a remote desktop. This means that a user accessing the corporate enterprise still needs to have a corporate-owned PC on and running somewhere. Splashtop points to use cases inside vertical markets, such as healthcare and education, for this new product offering.
Remote desktops could have their place in BYOD, but I see it almost more for teleworkers and not necessarily full-time mobile workers like sales people or field engineers. For example, in a healthcare environment (notoriously BYOD-unfriendly), a nurse could bring in his or her personal iPad and access electronic health records by connecting to a PC workstation running at a nursing station down the hall. Splashtop for Good would secure the connection and the sensitive patient data would never leave hospital infrastructure. I'm not quite convinced of Splashtop for Good outside of this sort of use case, because companies will still need to maintain corporate-owned hardware. Right now, I think of Splashtop for Good as a "BYOD extender" vs. a competitor to an MDM and other BYOD-centric platforms.
Security, management, and the remote desktop
While I view a remote desktop that Splashtop for Good offers to be niche, it does have the potential for some intriguing security options, including:
- Replacing a mobile Virtual Private Network (VPN) that Splashtop claims is more cost effective. While Splashtop claims it can be more cost effective, it's probably a special application that attracts you to Splashtop for Good, so conduct your cost benefit analysis on the solution accordingly.
- On-premise centralized console to monitor, manage, activate/deactivate, and audit employee remote access of applications and data across computers and clouds.
- Scale and accelerate existing Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) to mobile users.
The final point here is perhaps the biggest qualifier for this solution. Organizations already relying on VDI could find the right solution with Splashtop for Good to open their infrastructure to BYOD users. Take a look at the short video below for more information about Splashtop for Good.
Splashtop for Good might not be the BYOD solution for every use case. However, if you work in resource-intensive industries, such as engineering, video, and other things that require some power under the hood, than Splashtop for Good might be a solution to explore if you are mobilizing BYOD users who need secure remote access to their desktops for a particular application.
Will Kelly is a freelance technical writer and analyst currently focusing on enterprise mobility, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), and the consumerization of IT. He has also written about cloud computing, Big Data, virtualization, project management applications, Google Apps, Microsoft technologies, and online collaboration for TechRepublic and other sites. Will also works as a contract technical writer for clients in the Washington, DC area and nationwide. Follow Will on Twitter: @willkelly.