AT&T plans to double dip on BYOD devices with its dual container application Toggle, which is now available on iOS and Androids, followed soon by Windows Phone and Blackberry.
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Toggle is similar to VMware Horizon Mobile and Good Technology Inc.'s mobile management platforms in that it provides a way to keep corporate data and applications segregated and protected on personal smartphones.
AT&T's Toggle service only ran on Android devices before and suffered from a lack of interest because it did not support Apple iOS devices. The carrier said it has delivered an iOS client because of strong customer demand.
"Dual personas should have a place" in the spectrum of how organizations approach mobility, said Benjamin Robbins, a principal at Palador Inc., a mobility research firm based in Seattle, Wash.
But some say what really drives AT&T's mobile virtualization strategy is the potential data use revenue.
A ploy to push multiple data plans?
The first version of Toggle was built with Enterproid Inc.'s Divide software, but AT&T switched to OpenPeak Inc.'s platform for Toggle 2.0. The user experience for Toggle is the same, AT&T said.
So, why the switch? For one, Enterproid Divide only supports Android devices, though the company plans to deliver an iOS client. It did not provide a time frame for the release.
Another reason AT&T switched to OpenPeak is that this will allow the carrier to charge its customers for a dual data plan, according to Alexander Trewby, co-founder of Enterproid.
"Toggle 2.0 allows for dual AT&T-only data plans," said Trewby.
More on bring your
own device (BYOD):
How to create a BYOD policy
How to make a BYOD program work
Alleviating BYOD security issues with private cloud
Enterproid doesn't allow multiple data plans.
For now, Toggle works across all four major mobile carriers. However, when the company introduces the dual voice and data plan feature at the end of the year, the plan connected to Toggle 2.0 will be an AT&T one.
AT&T did not disclose any rate changes.
Overall, business service revenues for AT&T have been on a slight decline since 2010, however, the company has seen growth in one area: wireless data, which has grown by 4.2% over the same period.
Meanwhile, Verizon Wireless recently announced changes to its cell phone plans based on data consumption. New users will be charged $40 per month for unlimited voice and texts and then $50 per month for 1 GB of data.
Charging a premium for data on smartphones is where the money will be in the future, Palador's Robbins said.
"It's a great win-win angle for AT&T to push two plans on the same phone," Robbins said. "But, if they are only pushing a dual persona feature, that would be a troubling ploy."
Mobile virtualization features
With Toggle's cloud-based container approach to dual personas, employees download and install a mobile client from AT&T's cloud, which creates a work-only sandboxed container for Web browsing, email, messaging, a calendar and other productivity apps. Access to the container requires a passcode and it launches just as any other mobile application would.
IT admins can set secure policies on the work container that won't interfere with the personal side of the device, including remote wipe and what times of the day the work container can be accessed.
In addition, IT has no ability to see or access the personal side of the phone and anything that is inside the container can't be accessed outside the container, said Mobeen Khan, AT&T's executive director for advanced mobility solutions.
This firewall approach should prevent the type of problem Apple had with iOS applications such as Path accessing users' contacts without their knowledge.
Also new to Toggle 2.0 is the Toggle Hub, an internal app store that allows IT admins to deploy internal mobile apps that employees can self-serve for use inside the work container. Admins can also track application usage by user groups, as well as make select documents and media files available to the users that need them.
AT&T will also introduce a malware/antivirus component and the ability to have a separate voice and data plan for each persona later this year.
The company also plans to create a one-way valve for personal data to be accessed by the work container, so users will only have to check one calendar, for example.
While support for Apple devices will certainly broaden the appeal of mobile virtualization, the technologies need to mature.