Which Data Is Passed from My Physical Device to the Virtual Infrastructure?

With the proliferation of virtualized applications and desktops, the concept of any user accessing any application or desktop from any device has become reality. Whether accessed from a smartphone, tablet, or desktop, whether tethered or untethered, all the resources that users require must be accessible.

To make this happen, one or more agents or pieces of client device software are required on the end user device. If that end user device is corporate owned, there is certainly no issue with installing any components necessary to enable access to virtualized resources. However, if the user owns the device, as is often the case with smartphones, tablets, laptops, and even home desktops, it’s possible that with access to corporate resources, a plethora of other information also becomes exposed.

For example, when a user enables native email for corporate Exchange from a smartphone or tablet, it is well known that the user’s device can be remotely wiped. While the user’s intention is to be a good, corporate-conscious employee who is able to respond to emails at all times, the result could be a wiped device.

A positive use case for the installation of an agent or client device software is that of monitoring. For example, Aternity looks at the user session from the standpoint of the actual user experience on the client device; it doesn’t just assume what the user experience is like based on bandwidth or similar factors. By looking at a variety of criteria based on the client device, issues related to the physical device can uniquely be ascertained. For example, a device could readily be identified as residing on the New York office wireless network, which suffered a hardware issue that morning. Rather than troubleshooting a generic issue, such as “my session is very slow” or “print jobs are taking exceptionally long this morning,” administrators could be made aware of the issue and take steps to fix it early, as well as notifying the Tier 1 help desk that New York wireless users should be asked to plug into Ethernet connections where feasible.

On the other hand, when well-intentioned users install agents or client device software on their personal devices, some of the data that is pulled from that local device may be well beyond what the user had expected. And it is likely that the user is never notified. Most end users aren’t technically savvy, and they install lots of utilities and applications every day, so it is assumed that corporate- or business-related agents or client device software or agents must be okay. Not necessarily.

For example, Citrix provides the Mobile SDK for Windows applications at no charge. While this could be used to develop rudimentary mobile application management and implemented for sound business reasons, users might give away more information than expected when accessing applications from personal devices. For example, geocoding, which is now a staple of many businesses that have roving employees, could be built into applications that are hosted by means of XenDesktop/XenApp. What if you access your corporate applications from your iPad when playing hooky from work on Friday morning to address a few quick business items, including advising your boss that you’ll be out sick today, but geocoding captures that you’re actually in Mexico?

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Jo Harder
Jo Harder has been involved with virtualization for over 18 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. In February 2015, she was awarded Citrix Technology Professional. 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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