Mobile Devices and Desktops = Secure, Virtualized Applications?

With the number of mobile devices in use now surpassing that of desktops worldwide, the application virtualization requirements of business mobile users continues to grow exponentially. Whether these users access their business apps from a smartphone, tablet, or—the latest buzzword—“phablet,” their common denominator is their demand for more and better business applications on the go.

Accessing a virtual desktop from a five-inch screen isn’t something that even the most dedicated mobile user would tolerate for more than a few minutes. Accessing a virtual desktop on a small form factor device just isn’t reasonable, and mobility is an excellent reason to favor virtualized applications over virtual desktops.

Gone are the days when providing applications to users on an iPad was sufficient. Phones are getting bigger and tablets are getting smaller, and they’re all getting more powerful. Mobile World Congress took place earlier this week in Barcelona. Aside from the many new and cutting-edge user devices that were announced, technologies such as Windows 10 and Android Pay were presented. It’s clear that users will increasingly reject being physically tethered.

There will always be some business consumers of virtualization who do not have the need to be mobile and are perfectly suited to larger screens. The laboratory scientist, the bank loan processor, the dentist, and the telemarketer aren’t the business users who are demanding mobility.

With Citrix Synergy just two months away, it’s clear that mobility will once again take center stage at the flagship conference. The tagline for the convention is, “Learn how business mobility delivers greater collaboration, efficiency and agility.”

As we consider the importance of mobility and the genuine business need for increased productivity from mobile workers who don’t sit in front of a traditional desktop, we must increase our emphasis on the security aspect of virtualized resources. Who hasn’t lost a smartphone at some point? How much damage could be done by an unethical person in a taxi or airport who finds a tablet that is still logged into a corporate CRM system? That tablet could yield full access to company records, client contact information, financial data, and more. If it takes the user an hour to discover that the tablet has been lost, how much damage could be done before the device is wiped or disabled?

In addition to addressing the loss or theft of mobile devices, ensuring that specific users have secure access to authorized resources is critical. Encryption and other technologies ensure that this piece of the security puzzle is easier to control, but many organizations are lax when it comes to email in particular.

Mobility will push growth for virtualized, mobile applications rather than for virtual desktops. The demands of mobile users has forced many IT departments to move faster than expected with the implementation of new technologies. Business users say that they just want to access their apps and be productive on the go, but IT needs to ensure sufficient controls in place for timeouts, periodic reauthentication, GPS tracking, and other security measures. It’s not enough to secure just the applications anymore.

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