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The New Reality for SMBs: Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)

By Courtney Burry, Group Product Manager, VMware Enterprise Desktop BU

A number of publications covered recently published data from Mobilsafe last week, which found that 80% of SMB staffers are using a smartphone or tablet. And for the most part, it’s safe to say that these devices are not corporate owned or issued. According to CompTIA back in July 2011, a full 85 percent of SMBs said their employees use personal tech devices for work purposes. Laptops and smartphones were determined to be the most popular options, but 38 percent of companies also saw employees bringing in tablets.

Byod-tshirt1Now Giri Sreenivas (MobileSafe CEO) talked through three key risks SMBs need to recognize as they embrace the bring your own device (BYOD) phenomenon: Device diversity, outdated firmware, and leaky network authentication and data. And these concerns were also echoed by Seth Robinson, director of technology research at CompTIA back in July….“The top concerns are security-related, whether in the form of a virus being brought into the company network or some breach related to customer data. The time supporting these devices is also cited as a concern, whether it’s time spent by IT staff or by individual employees attempting to access corporate networks and applications.”

So how do SMBs address these concerns while supporting the BYOD trend? Well virtualization, specifically desktop virtualization is one popular solution. For many, (yes-even for Ken Hess in the BYOD Battle Royal),VDI is the bridge to BYOD, specifically allowing customers to embrace device diversity, better manage applications and updates and securely protect data and corporate IP.

How does this work…?

With desktop virtualization (and in the case of VMware View) IT can centrally manage users from the datacenter and ensure secure access to corporate data across a wide range of employee owned devices (including Mac, Windows and Linux devices as well as iPad and Android tablets). 

User access is fully encrypted via the security server or SSL when a user logs into their session with VMware View. VMware also provides vShield products that can be used in conjunction with VMware View and leading security vendor solutions to offload AV and provide high levels of isolation between resource pools and networks. This allows IT to apply policies at group levels-so for example–BYOD workers in finance are restricted from having USB capabilities and social security or credit card info that shows up in a word doc cannot be printed.

With VDI, corporate application updates and patches can be administered centrally and pushed out to users from the datacenter.  And IT can effectively isolate the networks that BYOD devices authenticate on to ensure that these users only access corporate data and applications via a virtual machine. This way, IT can minimize leaky data and don’t have to worry if that user has not updated their firmware on their underlying personal image. In addition data protection solutions like Verdasys work really well with VMware View to further eliminate data leaks (from the likes of dropbox) while additionally providing real-time data monitoring capabilities to IT.

BYOD is a reality. CEOs and young workers alike want to be able to access their work from a wide range of corporate and personally owned devices. BYOD has also become a no brainer for SMBs looking to offset capital expenses. But supporting this growing trend with physical devices will be difficult and time-consuming to manage and secure. Desktop virtualization provides an innovative way for SMB IT to support BYOD by improving user access, streamlining application updates and enhancing data security.

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