It's a fact of life in the enterprise world that employees will bring their own devices to work. Business accounts and sensitive information are easily found on personally owned smartphones, and while it's convenient for the user it's a security nightmare for IT.
The other option is to issue a company-owned device to those who need one. IT might be slightly more comfortable with this option, but users suffer in this case: No one wants to carry two devices.
A company called Hypori thinks it's solved the problem with the vPhone. Imagine the virtual desktop shrunken down into a cross-platform mobile app and you have the gist of the vPhone: It's a virtual Android device that runs in the cloud, eliminating the security risks of corporate data stored on personally owned devices.
Could the vPhone be the solution to your BYOD woes?
The mobile evolution of the virtual machine
From the thin client to the cloud-based PC, virtual machines (VMs) are a valuable business tool not only for employee convenience, but for security as well. With more and more business activitymoving out of the office—and onto mobile devices—it seems only natural that the next evolution of the virtual machine would be onto the smartphone, which is Hypori's objective with its vPhone platform.
Will Scott, executive vice president of product at Hypori, says that enterprise mobility is becoming a huge liability for businesses. "Data can be stolen, MDM only works when devices are turned on, and costs for corporate-owned devices are just too high," he said. "Security, manageability, and adoption are three areas where BYOD is always going to struggle."
SEE: 10 common BYOD pitfalls to watch out for (TechRepublic)
vPhone was designed around eliminating those concerns in the same way VMs did for the PC. "We want to move the whole problem into a controlled environment where none of the business's data is at risk on a personal device, Scott said."
vPhone: Good for users, great for IT managers
In testing the vPhone I had the opportunity to see how well it emulates a regular smartphone, as well as seeing the management console in action. IT professionals will be pleased with the amount of control they have over each individual vPhone instance, and users will be happy to ditch a separate device and avoid dealing with MDM restrictions.
From the user perspective, operating a vPhone is as simple as opening the iOS or Android app, logging in with valid credentials, and choosing the vPhone they want to run. It looks and operates just like a basic Android device, and users will see whichever apps their administrator gives them access to.
Users see the Hypori launcher that runs on their local device, but when they open apps they're connecting to an Android Marshmallow VM that runs on either a company's server or Hypori's cloud hosting platform.
For IT managers, running the vPhone platform is a lot like running any other VM infrastructure. VMs are assigned to users, roles can be customized for different types of users, and each vPhone can be completely controlled by administrators.
A one-stop security solution?
BYOD policy is a constant fight between what's convenient and what's secure, and the bottom line is that it will never reach an equilibrium that makes both parties happy unless there's a big change.
SEE: Information Security Certification Training Bundle (TechRepublic Academy)
The vPhone has the potential to be that change, but whether it will work for your organization is up for debate. You can apply for a vPhone in order to test it out, but there is a waiting list.
Has Hypori found a solution to the problems inherent in personal devices used for business? That's up to you to decide. At the very least it's comforting to know that someone is trying to solve the problem.
- Relaxed policies and outdated devices are the biggest BYOD threats (TechRepublic)
- Research: 74 percent using or adopting BYOD (ZDNET)
- 10 ways to reduce insider BYOD threats (TechRepublic)
- BYOD and Beyond (ZDNET)
- BYOD (bring-your-own-device) policy (Tech Pro Research)
Brandon Vigliarolo has nothing to disclose. He does not hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Brandon writes about apps and software for TechRepublic. He's an award-winning feature writer who previously worked as an IT professional and served as an MP in the US Army.