Mobile virtualisation tools unpopular, despite IT consumerisation

Budget constraints, availability of native apps and limited choice prohibit mobile virtualisation tools from gaining popularity, despite the rise of BYOD and IT consumerisation.

Mobile virtualisation technologies can help IT manage their BYOD strategies, but until there is more choice and collaboration between virtualisation tools and mobile operating systems, IT will steer clear, experts said.

Tighter budgets, IT security concerns and compatibility issues are some factors that limit mobile virtualisation technology adoption.

In addition, “companies are relying on the native apps to deliver business functionality,” said virtualisation expert Mike Laverick

IT prefers to use smartphones with built-in mail apps to avoid spending on these tools, he said.

Meanwhile,  bring-your-own device (BYOD) and IT consumerisation continue to gain dominance in the workplace, so IT has to find a way to manage corporate data on mobile devices.

A TechTarget survey of more than 2500 IT pros revealed that 34% of respondents plan to implement tablets in 2012, up from 18% in 2011.

IT hesitant to adopt MVP
Despite more smartphones and tablets entering the workplace, IT hasn’t embraced mobile virtualisation technologies such as VMware Inc.’s Mobile Virtualization Platform (MVP).

VMware’s MVP allow IT to run a virtual machine (VM) -- with another operating system (OS)-- on smartphones, giving users both their work and personal phone on the same device. Inside the VM, IT admins can use application-management tools such as VMware Horizon Mobile to secure the business apps and control access.

Another mobile virtualisation tool for Android devices is called BizzTrust. It is developed by Fraunhofer, an application-oriented research organisation in Europe. BizzTrust allows IT to create two virtual smartphones in a single device and manage only the corporate virtual smartphone.

Meanwhile, Red Bend has developed vLogix Mobile for Mobile Virtualization which too is pre-integrated with Android. The platform is built upon a "bare metal" -- which means that virtualisation is integrated into the hardware of the device.

These tools may require IT to make an additional infrastructural investment and review their security strategies, experts said.

Consumerisation of IT is still evolving and corporations are waiting for the trend to plateau before investing in this area,” said Stuart McHugh, systems analyst for Europe and Asia at Withers LLP.

Bringing a new technology to a mobile market is very tough in an ever changing and evolving market, he added.

Lack of choices for mobile virtualisation
Most people in the UK access only services such as corporate email and calendaring apps with their mobile devices, said Daniel Eason, a technical architect at a UK-based company.

Besides, using these tools and combining corporate and personal apps onto a single device raises questions such as who pays for the device and more importantly who supports it, Eason said.

Mobile virtualisation vendors are collaborating with a selective few mobile providers when there’s a wide array of mobile devices in use.

“This means there is limited choice,” Eason said. “If server vendors only supported the VMware hypervisor on two or three server models, they would suffer the same issues with adoption.”

Some vendors remain hampered by the closed off model of the iPhone, while a majority of tablet sales in the corporate space are from Apple’s iPad, Laverick said.

MVP is designed to run only on Android devices right now and the VM itself will also run only Android.

The cost and detailed research and development required to test MVP could deter other mobile vendors to become partners, explained Eason.

“Android hasn't yet eclipsed iPhone completely,” Laverick said. “If I had an iPad, why would I want a different OS on my phone - when I keep both in sync - and have same apps on both?” asked Laverick.

Support for more mobile carriers could give these tools a boost, agreed McHugh.

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