Merge home and business computing with a hypervisor

Hypervisor innovation

The key to merging both business and personal lives in IT may have a solution in the shape of a hypervisor.

Richard Brown, a senior research manager into security at HP, gave a demonstration at the company's labs in Bristol this week of a technology that he is currently working on, allowing users to run multiple operating systems and applications on top of a hypervisor.

Discussing the number of policies put in place to stop employees using work laptops for personal use due to security, Brown said: "Isn't that a shame? We have technology today to allow people to bring in their own lovely consumer technology into work and use it safely."

Brown and his team have been testing a way to keep personal and business separate at the client level. Using lightweight Linux operating systems on top of an open source Xen hyper visor, users are able to run one OS for personal use and one for business on the same machine whilst making sure the two don't meet and cause any security breaches.

Brown also demonstrated taking this to an even more basic level with a browser or email application running straight off of the hypervisor allowing you to use what you need without compromising the rest of your machine.

"It allows security all the way to a client whilst still allowing them a good user experience," he said.

He went further to suggest other applications that could be built on top, for example home banking.

Brown said: "You can put extra applications, say a home banking virtual appliance, on the hypervisor rather than a full operating systems. The banks could have it designed and downloadable from a trusted website and you could only get it there."

He added: "This means whatever nasty virus comes onto any of my other operating systems or if my kids mess about with my personal environment and it gets a virus, it cant touch another... and my bank details wont be accessible."

Although tested with Linux and Xen it would be able to run Microsoft operating systems if the user so desired, according to HP.

Jennifer Scott

Jennifer Scott is a former freelance journalist and currently political reporter for Sky News. She has a varied writing history, having started her career at Dennis Publishing, working in various roles across its business technology titles, including ITPro. Jennifer has specialised in a number of areas over the years and has produced a wealth of content for ITPro, focusing largely on data storage, networking, cloud computing, and telecommunications.

Most recently Jennifer has turned her skills to the political sphere and broadcast journalism, where she has worked for the BBC as a political reporter, before moving to Sky News.