Ryan Terry, division CIO and CSO 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.
For businesses that need strict security policy and compliance controls, such as the highly regulated healthcare and financial services industries, containerization can be especially helpful in making the BYOD experience more palatable for users, IT leaders say.
Choose your container
Existing vendors offer, in essence, three different containerization approaches:
- 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
- Using mobile hypervisors, which create an entire virtual mobile phone on the user's device that's strictly for business use
All of these technologies offer more granular control over corporate applications and data on users' devices than whatever security comes standard with smartphones currently. And users' devices no longer need to be on a list of smartphones that has 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 Phil Redman, an analyst at Gartner.
Neither Apple nor Google offer containerization technology, and neither would comment for this story, but their respective spokesmen did point out some resources that might be helpful. (See sidebar, below.)