Virtualization, one path to the mobile enterprise?

May 12, 2010
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Mobile is hot, no question about it but the move to a mobile enterprise has some rocks in the in the road. On the one hand the current set of enterprise software is pretty short on mobile ready user interface. While there are some mobile versions available from vendors like salesforce.com, Netsuite, Oracle, etc., often the functionality is limited and device support is limited to maybe 2 or 3 mobile operating systems. From an IT perspective mobile is often controlled by specifying a corporate approved device and in many cases actually issuing that device to employees. While that used to be acceptable in today’s “bring your own” technology environment, and with the proliferation of mobile device choices, many employees are simply going around IT to use their device of choice. From an IT view this presents many challenges and security risks (perceived or real). Even the simple process of providing email access can be a challenge in a multiple-device environment.

So how do you provide IT with security and control, which is much more of a challenge with mobile devices, even over laptops, give access to all enterprise systems (and somehow provide a reasonable user experience)


Mobile is hot, no question about it but the move to a mobile enterprise has some rocks in the in the road. On the one hand the current set of enterprise software is pretty short on mobile ready user interface. While there are some mobile versions available from vendors like salesforce.com, Netsuite, Oracle, etc., often the functionality is limited and device support is limited to maybe 2 or 3 mobile operating systems. From an IT perspective mobile is often controlled by specifying a corporate approved device and in many cases actually issuing that device to employees. While that used to be acceptable in today’s “bring your own” technology environment, and with the proliferation of mobile device choices, many employees are simply going around IT to use their device of choice. From an IT view this presents many challenges and security risks (perceived or real). Even the simple process of providing email access can be a challenge in a multiple-device environment.

So how do you provide IT with security and control, which is much more of a challenge with mobile devices, even over laptops, give access to all enterprise systems (and somehow provide a reasonable user experience) and accommodate user choice in devices? Enterprise vendors are scrambling to build out more mobile functionality but are hampered by the diverse set of mobile OS’s and the difficulty and expense of porting functionality across the different platforms. There are some new mobile development platforms that can port to multiple OS’s like Rhomobile, but not all ISV’s are taking that route. From a corporate perspective many companies have chosen to just support Blackberry’s Enterprise Server but more and more IT is getting pressure to open up to iPhones, Android based devices and the new Windows mobile. Enter Citrix Receiver, a new mobile virtualization technology. Virtualizing the desktop isn’t new of course, but extending that concept to the mobile device is innovative and addresses many of the current enterprise mobile challenges. I’ve tired the demo apps on both iPhone and iPad and the experience is quite good. Through the virtualized mobile app you can access any enterprise assets securely and in an acceptable UI. There no risk from loosing the device (no jokes here about next gen iPhones please), remote wipe, etc., that’s all handled through virtualization. The concept of “work.shift”, something that I learned from Citrix at their Synergy conference this week, fits squarely into where I think the social employee is going. Employees want to work when, where and how they choose, bring their own devices (including laptops, which Citrix calls the BYOC or bring your own computer project, enabled by their desktop virtualization), and have a more web 2.0 like user experience. Citrix Receiver is the first example I’ve seen of virtualizing the mobile enterprise and from my perspective a very good option for balancing the needs for security and control from IT and the desires of the new social employee.

— Post From My iPad