Trying to keep employee devices out of the office these days might seem like a lost cause. That strategy might also be short-sighted for smaller companies hampered by tight technology budgets. Enabling BYOD anarchy, on the other hand, can lead to security issues and other problems.
HP's latest refresh of its SMB portfolio hinges on a middle ground: Say yes to employee-owned devices on the corporate network, but keep business applications and data off those devices when not in use. Lisa Wolfe, worldwide SMB leader for HP's enterprise business division, said in an interview that the new lineup reflects the realities of the mobile workforce.
"It is happening," Wolfe said of BYOD and the broader mobility boom. She added that SMBs aren't typically well-suited to implement and enforce the more restrictive policies and controls that some large enterprises have put in place to manage BYOD risks. "I see those lines between the consumer world and the SMB blurring. I don't know if the policies and controls in larger organizations will prevent [BYOD] from bleeding into the enterprise, but I see it blurring in [the SMB] segment."
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Among the pain points HP hopes to address: Supporting a business imperative to enable mobile access to applications without jeopardizing company data, provisioning employee-owned devices for that access, and managing the increased network and data demands that come with supporting a wide range of smartphone and tablets.
Enter the new HP Client Virtualization SMB, which is essentially a set of reference architectures for running VMware, Citrix, or Microsoft virtualization environments on HP ProLiant Generation 8 servers. While it supports thin clients or laptops, the real focus is on tablets and smartphones--particularly those devices that employees use interchangeably in their personal and professional lives. The system stores user profiles on the server side. That allows employees to run business applications on their personal devices while not storing any data on them. As a result, a stolen iPad might mean a lousy day for the employee who owned it, but her employer's IT manager can relax--corporate information remains on the server.
"As soon as the mobile employee terminates that application, the application and data remain on the server or storage inside the business," Wolfe said. "No data is ever moved out to the device, whatever that device is." The platform will support any type of device, not just HP gear. (That was probably an easy call: If the platform excluded iPads and Android phones, for example, it would be dead on arrival.)
HP simultaneously announced HP Client Virtualization, Analysis, and Modeling, an out-of-the-box service intended to speed up virtualization deployments by analyzing the SMB's existing infrastructure. Wolfe said the service is aimed in part at helping SMBs sort out which existing applications to move into a client virtualization environment. HP will also begin offering "mobility transformation" workshops for SMBs that need help developing a mobile strategy and sorting through what business goals IT can reasonably support.
Mobile is indeed the word of the hour. Even the old-school infrastructure updates to HP's SMB lineup--routers, switches, and storage--are tooled with an eye towards enabling mobility in an efficient, secure manner. "The phenomenon of a mobile workforce will just continue to grow," Wolfe said. "It's not going to subside any time soon."
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