Ryan Terry, division CIO and chief security officer at University Hospitals Health System in Shaker Heights, Ohio, turned to containerization because he sees the use of traditional MDM tools to control the entire device as a liability issue. The hospital needs to have apps or data delivered securely to clinicians without interfering with the users' ability to access their personal apps and data. "We can't afford to delete things of a personal nature or impede their ability to use their personal asset," he says.
Alex Yohn, assistant director of technology at West Virginia University, is also wary. "I don't want my guys doing settings on the personal side that could come back to haunt us," such as accidentally deleting data or making configuration changes that affect how the users' personal apps run, he says.
For companies in highly regulated industries that need strong security policies and face strict compliance mandates, containerization can be especially helpful in making the BYOD experience more palatable for users, IT leaders say.
Choose Your Container
Vendors offer, in essence, three different approaches to containerization: creating an encrypted space, or folder, into which applications and data may be poured; creating a protective "app wrapper" that creates a secure bubble around each corporate application and its associated data; and using mobile hypervisors, which create an entire virtual mobile phone on the user's device that's strictly for business use.
All of these approaches offer more granular control over corporate applications and data on users' devices than whatever security comes standard with smartphones currently. And with containerization, users aren't limited to using devices on an approved list of smartphones that have been certified and tested by IT, because corporate apps and data reside inside a secure, encrypted shell.
However, the need to switch back and forth between the business and personal environments may be perceived as inconvenient and affect overall user satisfaction, says Phillip Redman, an analyst at Gartner.
Neither Apple nor Google offer containerization technology, and neither would comment for this story, but each company did point out some resources that might be helpful (see sidebar, below).
The most mature containerization approach is the use of an encrypted, folder-based container, Redman explains. AirWatch has such an offering, and Good Technology is an early market in sales to organizations that have adopted containerization enterprisewide, particularly within regulated industries.