As it stands, three companies -- Enterproid, VMware, and Red Bend Software -- offer competing products in this market. Each has found a niche for the enterprise, and offers unique features geared for particular needs.
1. Enterproid Divide Enterproid offers the most straightforward approach. On an Android phone, the employee clicks one app and taps in a password to start a secure business instance of the OS. On the management side, IT can control which apps are installed, set policies and remotely swipe the business instance. Yet, IT also cannot touch the personal data of the employee or control app installs.
Because Divide is intended for quick deployment, IT can roll the product out to just about any Android device, which includes tablets like the Amazon Kindle Fire.
Andy Zmolek, the director of solutions engineering at Enterproid, says one differentiator between Divide and the VMWare Horizon Model hypervisor approach, which also runs as an app, is that Divide does not require any cooperation with the phone OEM. The install does not require a low-level driver and uses the standard Android procedures for installing an app. Zmolek says other unique features include the ability for IT admins to send apps to the business instance based on employee role, control policies such as allowing copy-paste between instances, and using 256-bit encryption for data.
Zmolek says the Type 2 hypervisor for Divide allows more flexibility in deployment compared to a root-level hypervisor like the one from Red Bend Software. "If you force the device OEM to do virtualization you will only have a few devices and it will take more time to bootstrap devices," he says.
2. VMware Horizon Mobile Virtualization VMware offers a hybrid approach to mobile virtualization. The product, Horizon Mobile Virtualization, is not just a sandbox emulator that runs as an app, but instead offers some of the root-level benefits of a Type 1 hypervisor like Red Bend without requiring root-level access from the phone OEM. There is an app, but it is more baked into the OS than a virtual machine app like Enterproid Divide.
Horizon Mobile addresses the trend in IT where more employees are using personal devices at work. Hoofar Razavi, a VMware product manager, says there are too many restrictions put in place for the personal use of smartphone in the enterprise. Yet, the product also makes it safe for employees to conduct "transactional" activities in a secure mode. For example, employees can use their personal device to check Facebook status, but they can switch to the business instance to create expense reports or answer business-sensitive e-mails. This combination of is more fluid to daily work. "Mobile devices might be the only touchpoint employees use to interact with the enterprise," he says.
Interestingly, VMware has offered both Type 1 and Type hypervisors for mobile virtualization. The company started out using only hardware-level virtualization. Razavi says the company recognized the lightening-fast design cycle and time-to-market realities of mobile devices. He says most smartphones are only on the market for about 9-12 months, but it takes about two years for OEMS to develop the phones. That means, hardware-level virtualization will always be running behind the market.