- Organizations are looking to virtualization to consolidate resources and streamline device management. While virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) is becoming more common, healthcare virtual mobile infrastructure (VMI) may have a place in health IT infrastructure as well.
VMI works in a similar way to VDI where it uses abstraction to remote an OS to a mobile device. The virtualization separates the OS environment and application layer from a user’s endpoint device. Users access their personal OS via any thin client device on the network without having to go through a long login process.
The OS is hosted on a centralized server in an organization’s datacenter. Instead of logging into a cloud service, bringing up a personal profile stored on the cloud, and logging in to each app individually, virtualizing OSes allows end-users to use a simulated version of their personal environment on their main computer or endpoint device they use for access.
The difference is, VDI remotes desktop OSes to mobile devices and VMI remotes mobile OSes to mobile devices. That distinction may seem trivial, but the usability of a mobile OS on certain mobile devices is much better than a desktop OS on certain mobile devices.
Desktop OSes are not meant to be used on smartphones or tablets. Applications designed for desktops can be difficult for users to navigate because the functions were not designed to be used on a touch screen. Users can accidentally hit the wrong buttons and some functions may not appear on the mobile device at all.
VMI also helps organizations solve the problem of bring-your-own-device (BYOD). BYOD policies need to be well thought out and strict, which can cause friction between users and IT departments. Users don’t want their employers having access to personal data and IT doesn’t want outside malware infecting the network.
HIPAA compliance makes mobile security a high priority for healthcare organizations and implementing a VMI solutions can take some of those concerns away.
VMI functions by accessing virtual machines (VM) stored in data centers from mobile devices. Because the VM is not stored on the device, no data from the healthcare network is stored on the device making VMI a good alternative to traditional BYOD solutions.
The secure network is accessed by a gateway that uses a container to separate the personal information on the device and access the VM in the data center. Gateways are presented as widgets employees sign into when they need to access electronic health data or other secure data on a mobile device. Essentially, users are able to have two mobile devices in one.
Accessing the network through this gateway completely separates the data stored on the device from the secure data accessed through virtualization, benefiting users and IT departments. Users get their desired privacy from their employer because the connection is one way.
IT staff cannot access and have no record of personal data or information stored on the physical device. IT has full control over the virtual device and is able to perform maintenance and updates for all users at once. If the physical device is lost or stolen, IT can immediately close the gateway, protecting patient data and the network.
VMI is more secure by design because it takes the approach that the endpoint device is untrusted at best. VMI creates a single disposable session to deliver the application to the endpoint. When the user is done interacting with the application, the session is disposed of, removing that data from the end point device.
Containing OSes and applications using virtualization gives IT more control over endpoint devices and reduces the risk of cyberattacks contaminating the network. The control and efficiency VMI offers makes it a tool worth looking into as organizations continue their digital transformations.