The answer to the BYOD question is Virtualization.

Virtualization seems to be everyone's answer to every problem. For BYOD, it might just be the answer to stressed budgets and user happiness.
Written by Ken Hess, Contributor

If you missed the BYOD battle royal between Heather Clancy and me or my awesome win on said debate, you can read my summary of the debate and the issue, "BYOD: The inevitable reality." But, you might ask yourself after reading the debate entries and my summary of it, "Why did Ken win the BYOD debate?" It's a legitimate question because you, the readers, voted that BYOD is a fail. Heather did a great job of pointing out some weaknesses of the whole BYOD idea. The reason that I won is simple--and it really had nothing to do with me or my arguments--BYOD is the inevitable result of a new workforce. And, the answer to the question of BYOD is virtualization.

Now, you might think that saying, "Virtualization," is a generic term, a panacea or a cop-out. Actually, it's none of the above. Virtualization, the way I'm using it, means an all-encompassing technology with which developers, managers and CXOs can begin to rethink how users interact with Enterprise resources. Virtualization isn't simply server virtualization and it's definitely not VDI--it's both.

That's right, it's both. In the future, when a user connects to resources, she won't know whether she's connecting to a server, a virtual desktop or a virtualized application. Further, she doesn't really need to know, since she's only connecting to resources: a database, a web-based application, a calendar or email. And, it won't matter which device she decides to use to make those connections.

She could be at home connecting to email with her phone and using her laptop to reprogram some code for an application gone awry during the last promotion from staging to production. Regardless of the use case, she's using her own laptop and her own phone to make the connection into the data center a mere two thousand miles away.

Virtual Desktops

I bash VDI a lot but it has its place. And, its place is the new data center-centric computing environment. For better security, businesses will seek to remove the operating system and its data from the end user's control. That's a good move. Lost or stolen devices are but one argument on the for side of the VDI question. If you lose your laptop, the entire contents of your hard disk are only two screws away from compromise. A thief doesn't have to know your login name or password. He can remove the disk and attach it to another computer for instant access to everything on the disk: data, documents, email and your password file that you have on your desktop because you can't remember all those annoying passwords that keep changing.

Once you think about that, all those anti-Cloud rants seem silly, don't they. If your operating system resides in a data center and your data in the Cloud, what's on your stolen laptop? It could be a minimal Linux system that connects you to your workspace via a VPN. No data. No documents. No password file.

Nothing to see here, move along.

Sure, you've lost a laptop but that's all you've lost. Your important documents, your company's proprietary data and the contents of your ongoing projects are all safe and sound. It's safe because it's not on your laptop. While you wait for a replacement, you can use your tablet and your phone to complete the day's tasks.

Application Virtualization

Applications are what we use to do our work. Word processing, email, web browser, SSH client, RDP client, text editor and SQL client are all examples of applications. Citrix taught us how to use applications that we didn't have installed on our computers. And, the theory is that you shouldn't have to pay for an application that you never use.

For example, every copy of Microsoft Office comes with PowerPoint. What if you don't use PowerPoint? What if only ten people out of 1,000 in your company uses PowerPoint? Count the dollars you'd save by only paying for what you use instead of what you might use because it's installed on every computer.

Application virtualization also keeps data off of the local system by having its own built-in data mappings. In other words, you can control where a user puts his documents when he saves them. If you weren't afraid of Cloud-based storage, he could save them to a safe, non-local site. Awesome? I think so.

Mobile Hypervisors

Fellow ZDNet blogger and tech dude extraordinaire Jason Perlow and I have discussed this one at some length and we agree that this is the true future of mobile computing. BYOD on mobile devices is made possible by employing mobile hypervisors. In short, a mobile hypervisor allows you to have your personal settings in one virtual tablet and your company's settings in another virtual tablet. Or, virtual phone.

If that doesn't raise your eyebrows, check your pulse. This is the real answer to BYOD in the mobile computing space. I can't tell you about some of the proprietary technology that I've seen in this area but get ready folks, it's incredible. It's game-changing and not just marketing fluff. It's crazy what one company in particular has developed and I'll be excited to see it hit the market hopefully next year.

You have the possibility of two different hypervisors for mobile devices: Type 1 and Type 2.

Type 2 is just another app that will run a virtual tablet or a virtual phone for you. Cool, but far less efficient.

The Type 1 hypervisor is really where it's at. A hypervisor on your mobile device and the possibility of multiple virtual devices that can run on it simultaneously is absolutely mind-boggling. You could switch dynamically between them at will. Imagine the possibilities.

To learn more about a real mobile hypervisor, check out Larry Dignan's article covering the deal between VMware and Verizon.

BYOD is very close to reality. Maybe it is already where you work. Talk back and let me know what your experiences are and if virtualization--especially mobile hypervisors will make you rethink what's possible.

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