Do You Need a Virtual Mobile Infrastructure?

 In Mobile

Companies that want to empower their employees to get more done are allowing the use of mobile devices to let employees work from anywhere at anytime. But even if the company issues the mobile devices rather than allowing employees to use their personal devices for work, they aren’t fully under company control. They go wherever the employee takes them, off the company premises. Both the device and data are at risk of being lost.

One way to mitigate that risk is through using Mobile Device Management, Mobile Application Management, or Enterprise Mobile Management software. These products wrap controls around the end users’ usage of applications on their device, allow companies to track the usage of mobile applications and data, and enable companies to wipe data from devices.

Those applications don’t change the fact that data is moving out of the data center and stored on a small, portable, easily lost device, though. A new approach to mobile security solves that problem. A virtual mobile infrastructure (VMI) is similar to your virtual desktop infrastructure, but rather than running desktop applications in a centrally managed location, it runs mobile applications in a centrally managed location. The data center runs Android operating system instances and apps, either by running a fully virtual OS or by virtualizing individual apps (known as mobile app virtualization).

Users access their mobile apps through a thin client app on their device. Every other app, and all its data, is served from the virtual mobile infrastructure. The data is never stored on the mobile device, and is never at risk from malware on the device or a lost or stolen device. Only a view of the data, not the data itself, is on the mobile device.

There are other benefits from a virtual mobile infrastructure, too:

  • Supporting mobile apps becomes easier. With VMI, the operating system on the mobile device doesn’t matter; every end user runs the same version of the app. Even users with iOS devices can use the virtual Android applications. Your development team only needs to write code for a single platform, and your support team can be sure everyone is running the same version of the application.
  • Granular tracking and compliance. VMI lets companies track every use of a mobile app, even recording the entire session. Companies can use this to monitor privileged user activity. Companies can also layer additional controls like watermarks on top of the screen images to prevent screen captures and unauthorized sharing of data.
  • Easily manage users, including contractors. While companies may be able to require the ability to remotely wipe data from employees’ devices, they are often unable to enforce this level of control on non-employees who need to access company systems, such as vendors and contractors. By using VMI, companies are able to grant and remove access privileges to these third-parties easily while still protecting data from loss.

VMI isn’t right in every situation, though. There are some circumstances where it may not be appropriate:

  • Users need access to iOS apps. Although VMI lets iOS users access Android apps, Apple doesn’t allow iOS to run on other platforms, so iOS apps themselves can’t be virtualized. If you have special-purpose apps that only run on iOS, VMI won’t be a solution for you.
  • Users need to be able to access their apps offline. VMI requires connectivity in order to stream the app image from the data center to the device. If your users work in remote areas that don’t have connectivity, VMI won’t support them.

Mobile apps can be empowering for your workforce and enable company growth, but they need to be managed effectively to balance the risks and benefits. Prescient Solutions can help you review your usage scenarios and design a mobile strategy that supports your business. Contact us for your free assessment.

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