dual persona (mobile device management)

Dual persona, in a mobile management context, is the provisioning and maintenance of two separate and independent end user environments on a single mobile device. Typically, the first environment is personal and the second one is for work. 

The goal of dual persona mobile application management (MAM) is to provide an organization with a way to keep corporate applications and their associated data segregated and protected on an employee's personal mobile device. To protect the end user's privacy, the IT department can only see and manage the assets in the business environment. If an employee leaves the company, the business environment can be wiped clean, leaving the employee's personal data and apps intact. Dual persona technology addresses one of the challenges of the bring your own device trend: how to exercise IT control over employees' personal devices without infringing on their right to privacy.

One approach to dual persona is mobile virtualization, which uses a hypervisor to divide hardware resources among two operating systems on the same device. VMware Horizon Mobile for Android is an example of a mobile virtualization product.

Another approach requires the employee to download and install a mobile client which creates an isolated work-only environment called a container. The container, which is launched like any other mobile app, allows an administrator to set secure policies for the work side of the device that won't interfere with the personal side of the device. Such security policies include password protection, remote wipe and specifications for what times of the day the work container can be accessed. AT&T Toggle is an example of this approach to dual persona.

In addition to protecting corporate data, one of the biggest concerns with dual persona mobile device management (MDM) is usability. As the line blurs between people's personal and business lives, there are questions about whether mobile device users will be willing to switch back and forth between two mobile environments.

This was last updated in November 2012

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