Virtualization and Cloud executives share their predictions for 2013. Read them in this VMblog.com series exclusive.
Contributed article by Tom Kemp, CEO and Co-founder of Centrify Corporation
Prediction 2013 - The Year of Mobile Virtualization
Virtualization from a server perspective has
been a disruptive force in the IT world, resulting in VMware being the fourth
largest software company in terms of market cap and analysts estimating that well
over 50% of servers are now virtualized.
Desktop virtualization? Well ...
definitely not as successful as server virtualization but that's another story. So what's the next platform that
virtualization will be deployed on en masse?
My answer is mobile devices ... and here's why in 2013 that mobile virtualization
will be a huge trend within IT.
We all know about the massive wave of adoption
of smartphones and tablets. Some
analysts have pointed out that over the last few years mobile device adoption
has run circles around the adoption rates of PCs in the 80s, the Internet boom
in the 90s, and social networking over the last few years, making smart mobile
device adoption the most widely adopted consumer technology in history outside
the adoption of radios over the initial 5-8 year period of time.
A little history. Given that this is a consumer revolution,
consumers are naturally bringing these mobile devices into work and accessing
corporation information such as email from these devices. This is known as Bring Your Own Device
("BYOD") and most analysts agree that well over half the smartphones in the
workforce are in fact personally owned vs. company owned. Users
within minutes of purchasing their device are already hooking their devices
into their corporate email, and are beginning to expect (and complain if they
are not getting what they want) that corporate IT deliver mobile business apps
that are just as easy to use as what the apps they get from the Apple iTunes
store or Google Play.
Clearly having personal owned devices accessing
corporate data and apps raises a bunch of security and risk concerns. Given that mobile devices are easily lost or
stolen, corporations don't want valuable corporate data being viewed by a
cabdriver or some random guy at the bar, so corporate IT needs the ability to
locate, lock and/or wipe devices in 2013.
Corporate IT will also need the ability to restrict what apps can be
deployed on an employee's phone via whitelisting and blacklisting to improve
employee productivity and minimize the risk of malware intruding into the
corporate network. And they probably don't want to pay the phone
bill for a personal call to an employee's aunt in Timbuktu, but would want to
reimburse the employee for work-related calls.
One solution has been mobile device management
("MDM"), which historically has had an all or nothing approach to managing the
device itself. Employee leaves the
company? Wipe the device, even though
the ex-employee has songs and photos on it, potentially causing some
destruction of property issues here. Block
Plants vs. Zombies? Heck yes says
corporate IT, we don't want him playing that game while on the job. But it's the employee's phone and he wants to
play that game at night, should he not have that right? Locate a lost or stolen phone? Sure says corporate IT. But employees don't want corporate IT
snooping on where they are after hours (or even during business hours for that
matter). Force the need for a passcode
to unlock the phone? Yes says corporate
IT, but what happens when the child of the employee tries to use the phone to
play a game and does too many invalid PIN attempts and causes the phone to be
locked? Clearly MDM can add value but
can cause more problems too.
Another solution has been to buy a corporate
phone for the employee while the employee purchases and also uses their own
personal phone. But the natural
inclination for most people is to simply carry one device - who wants to carry
around two phones? And companies in the
end have to buy each employee a phone, vs. leveraging the costs savings
associated with the employee buying their own phone. Again not a good solution.
Back to the 2013 prediction. Given these solutions are causing headaches
for both employers and employees, there is a huge need for virtualization for
the smart devices themselves, where the corporate and business data and apps
are stored in their own "virtualized instance" (aka "workspace" aka "container"
aka "sandbox") on the device. So even in
the case that the device itself has no unlock passcode and no corresponding
security policies, the secure container of business apps on the phone cannot be
accessed unless the appropriate passcode is entered. And inside the container the user is able to
share data between business apps (e.g. copy and paste text from an email into a
CRM record), but corporate IT would of course not want data inside the
container copy-and-pasted onto a non-container app such as Twitter or Facebook. And of course corporate IT should have the
ability to wipe the container if the device is lost or the employee leaves the
organization, but not delete music, photos, personal apps, etc. that the
employee put on the phone.
Virtualization of mobile devices is a great win
for employees and employers, and even provides the flexibility that if a user
is say a contractor working at multiple companies, the contractor can have
multiple containers on his or her phones, one for each client. And it sounds like the carriers are working
on technology so that eventually each container could be tied to its own data
plan, making a clearer division between work and personal usage.
There are a number of ways third party and
mobile OS and device vendors are already looking to provide virtualization on
smart devices, ranging from creating encrypted folders to wrapping apps or even
through virtualization of the underlying mobile operating systems. No matter how implemented, mobile
virtualization is a key technology that represents the needed solution to a
significant pain point in this BYOD world.
In 2013, definitely expect multiple MDM vendors
to add this capability (through organic development or through acquisitions) in
2013, as well as pureplay startups popping up to this address painpoint. And don't be surprised if even the underlying
device manufacturer or mobile OS vendor adds this capability to their offerings
as more and more businesses make this a requirement. In the latter case, if
sandboxing comes standard with the mobile devices, even expect the need for MDM
to eventually be replaced by a new market called Mobile Container Management
Like most technology adoption, virtualization
adoption has been driven by ROI and significant user "itches" that need to be
"scratched." We saw that in the case of
server virtualization where server consolidation was a huge ROI driver. We have not yet seen (and may never see) the big
adoption for desktop virtualization, and just like mobile devices are replacing
PCs, we will see the shift of virtualization get greater adoption on mobile
devices than it will ever see on the desktop side of things. And I predict 2013 will be huge year for
virtualization of mobile.
About the Author
Tom Kemp is the CEO and
co-founder of Centrify Corporation (http://www.centrify.com), a leading
provider of enterprise security software solutions for on-premise and cloud
environments. Previously he was Entrepreneur in Residence at Mayfield, a
leading Silicon Valley venture capital firm. Tom was also one of the first
employees and a founding team member of NetIQ Corporation that IPOed in
1999. Kemp started his career at Oracle
Corporation. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science and in history
from the University of Michigan. You can follow Tom on Twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/ThomasRKemp or follow his Centrify blog at http://www.centrify.com/blogs/overview.asp or his Forbes blog at http://blogs.forbes.com/tomkemp.