Virtual mobile infrastructure (VMI) is a delivery model in which a mobile operating system (OS) is hosted in a data center and delivered to a mobile device.
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As of this writing, IT administrators may only host Android operating systems; Apple's licensing rules do not allow the iOS operating system to be abstracted from Apple hardware.
When VMI is deployed, the operating system or application runs on a virtual machine (VM) in a remote data center. Any data associated with the OS and its applications is stored there as well. The OS is delivered to the endpoint through a secure remote communications protocol, which is decoded by a client app that runs on the mobile device. The OS and applications do not have to run locally on the mobile device. Some client apps can expose local hardware -- such as GPS, accelerometers and cameras -- to the remote OS, which makes the OS and its applications behave as if they were running locally.
VMI allows a company to develop or acquire only one version of an application and deliver that app to all employees regardless of their devices' mobile platform; employees with Apple devices can use Android apps on their iOS devices, for example. VMI can also simplify data security and mobile application management (MAM) for an IT department, which helps employees and managers meet the terms of their organization's BYOD and compliance policies.
A VMI deployment offers some of the same advantages as a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) deployment. Both approaches are useful for separating work and personal environments on the same computing device. When an employee leaves an organization, the organization's IT staff can simply change the employee's privileges to deny access to the VM and organizational data.