Desktop virtualization and mobility management are not the same. While it’s true that you can access virtualized desktops and applications from a mobile device, there are some key differences that may cause users to rethink how much work they will do on their mobile devices.

In many organizations, employees use whatever devices they prefer to access their virtualized desktop and applications. You like Mac? Mac it is for you. You’re a Windows kind of gal? Windows PC for you. Most IT organizations have stopped trying to prevent users from bringing devices into the workplace, because the bottom line is that people work more hours when they’re doing work on their preferred device. When users access business resources from their own devices, e.g., a smartphone, tablet, or computer, adding a piece of client software is generally acceptable because that client software is just serving as a gateway to the business resource.

But mobile devices are quite a different story. Of course, email functionality is built into every mobile device, and users expect to be able to access their business email. With Mobile Device Management (MDM), the IT department is permitted to access and control the smartphone or tablet. The key difference is related to the word “control.” Let’s think this through…

Let’s say that an employee purchases his or her own device and then lets the company control it via MDM. The company retains the right to perform a complete or selective remote wipe if necessary. The company hires a new IT person to manage MDM. Upon learning that the VP of Sales has just submitted her resignation, a remote wipe is initiated. An hour or two later, the administrator realizes that he just performed a complete wipe on your smartphone by accident. Gone are the photos of your spouse, children, house, dog, and/or friends. The phone call you receive on your office phone is little consolation.

Given the possibility of this scenario, it’s understandable that users are resistant to MDM where the employee owns the device and both personal and business data are stored on that device. On the other hand, in situations where the company purchases the smartphone or tablet and then retains control over it via MDM, employees would understandably have no right to place personal data on the device or otherwise control it. As a result, I predict that you will start seeing more and more people carrying two smartphones instead of one and becoming more territorial as to the business resources that are installed on the personal device. It all goes back to control.

This brings us full circle to desktop virtualization. When a user employs a personal device to access a virtualized desktop or virtualized applications, the user doesn’t give up control of the device for the corporate good. Especially as more users voluntarily use more personal devices to access business resources, keeping this level of control in the users’ hands will continue to generate higher acceptance and greater success of desktop virtualization.

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Jo Harder (33 Posts)

Jo Harder has been involved with virtualization for over 15 years, long before virtualization was the norm. After holding several sales and marketing positions, she started down the path of bits and bytes while at AT&T/Lucent Technologies. She then moved onto Citrix in 1999, where she became a Senior Architect. Her 11-year tenure included a combination of Citrix Consulting and Technical Readiness roles. After leaving Citrix, Jo provided consulting services for various clients for the next year. In her current role at a hosting provider, she is focused on cloud-based solutions for financial industry clients.

Jo's diverse background of sales, marketing, management, and architectural/technical expertise brings a unique perspective to Virtualization Practice. She welcomes input from vendors, industry contacts, and end users and can be reached at joharder@virtualizationpractice.com.

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4 comments for “Why Some Desktop Virtualization Users Will Pass on Mobile Device Management

  1. February 10, 2014 at 1:35 PM

    What about mobile application management? Doesn’t that avoid most of the MDM problems you mentioned, while providing a better mobile user experience than desktop virtualization?

  2. Glenda Canfield
    February 10, 2014 at 11:10 PM

    Jo is speaking exclusively to MDM. Not other methods of managing mobile access devices. She saying that users don’t want company owned & managed mobile devices.

  3. Jo Harder
    February 10, 2014 at 11:40 PM

    Hi Colin – The discussion here is whether the user or the corporation owns/controls the end device. Users don’t always fully understand the implications of owning the mobile device and allowing the corporation to take control over it via MDM. However, when a users installs something like Citrix Receiver on a personal mobile device, the user doesn’t lose control of that device.

    Basically, corporate device + MDM = okay, personal device + MDM = think twice.

  4. Joe Jessen
    February 11, 2014 at 1:00 PM

    In the real world, the draconian approach to MDM is usually reserved for corporate provided devices. Personal devices, if allowed at all, will get access to limited services such as corporate email. In this scenario the MDM is configured to only be able to do a Selective Wipe, usually of the data that was originally provision to the device when it was configured.

    Ask a few corporate lawyers and they will tell you that they want no part in touching personal information. They are more focused on keeping intellectual property from walking away.

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