If BYOD success can be defined by coming up with a compromise that’s equally acceptable to IT and the end user, the secret to success probably lies in the technology that’s used to enable the user’s business and personal personas to coexist on the device. It appears that the openness of Android makes coexistence without compromising the user experience a whole lot easier than is the case with iOS.
I didn’t realize that until I spoke recently with Omer Eiferman, CEO of Cellrox, a multi-persona platform provider based in Tel Aviv. To set the stage for the conversation, Eiferman explained Cellrox’s approach to the BYOD experience.
“There are many ways to embrace BYOD,” he said. “Most of them are based on achieving a balance between security and usability—looking at long passwords, encryption, what you can do, what you can’t do. And typically, the IT manager is dialing a dial until it gets to the point where it’s acceptable to IT, and the inconvenience it causes the end user is bearable.”
Cellrox’s approach, Eiferman said, is that “everybody should get everything.” Accomplishing that, he said, requires the device to be split into multiple personas.
“Each one is like a totally different system,” Eiferman said. “That allows IT to embrace whatever security policies they have, including encryption. And it allows the end user to do whatever they do with a stock device, with no limitation. We can do both without compromising the user experience.”
Cellrox’s multi-persona technology was created for the Android platform, and I had assumed going into the discussion that that was a decision driven simply by Android’s higher market share. It turns out that it’s more complicated than that—it’s a technology issue that has to do with the open nature of Android, and the closed nature of iOS. The irony is that, according to Eiferman, Android lags iOS in terms of enterprise mobility management.
“Android’s open nature makes it harder for corporate to adopt,” he said. “On top of that, Android, compared to iOS, is behind in terms of corporate APIs for management systems. Cellrox bridges this gap, to allow corporate IT to manage and control Android devices without compromising the Android experience.”
The problem is that Cellrox can’t do for iOS what it does for Android, because iOS isn’t an open system.
“We provide system security, which is integrated inside the OS, unlike an application,” Eiferman explained. “Apple has traditionally banned any type of virtualization from their systems.”
I pointed out to Eiferman that there are quite a few vendors that offer multi-persona BYOD technology—MaaS360, Graphite Software’s Secure Spaces, MobileIron, and Divide, to name a few. I asked him what the difference is between what Cellrox is doing, and what those other vendors are doing. He insisted that none of them are really multi-persona.
“All of those companies use container technology for business,” Eiferman said. “Think about the basic needs of corporate, which are email, calendaring, and contacts. They take those three applications, recompile them into one big application, secure that application’s connection to the operating system, and then you have a container. The problem is that the container only has three applications inside, and they have to provide tools for developers to get more applications into that container by doing some development work on them. Applications are modified to fit into the container. The result is a different application—a mutation. Containers are not scalable for the next few years of BYOD requirements.”
Eiferman said the difference is that Cellrox supports any application, without the need to containerize them, or to write a single line of code.
“Everything works natively,” he said. “That means corporate isn’t limited to calendaring, email, and contacts. They can choose any third-party application that’s out there, or they can use the native applications that come with the device, which isn’t within the capability of those containers.”
Interestingly, in February, Cellrox inked a deal with Fixmo, an enterprise mobility management services provider in Sterling, Va., to bring what the announcement calls “multi-persona services” to iOS devices. Eiferman acknowledged, however, that Fixmo is actually using container technology that suffers from the same restrictions and issues he had described in talking about the approach taken by those other vendors. But he said there was no alternative.
“The challenge is you can’t go beyond containers in iOS, compared to what you can do with Android—iOS won’t let you,” he said. “It’s the best that can be done for iOS.”