General Dynamics this week announced the acquisition of Open Kernel Labs (OK Labs), a private, Chicago-based corporation that has developed solutions that enable secure access to private networks operated by enterprises, public safety, governments or military operating in bring-your-own-device (BYOD) environments.

"We've been working the idea of bring your own device for some time, and we're finally at that point where the technology has caught up to the idea," Chris Marzilli, president of General Dynamics C4 Systems, said during an interview with Urgent Communications.

With the OK Labs solution, software can put onto a commercial device that enables two or three personas, with at least one being secured and controlled by the enterprise's IT policies. With this capability, a user can conduct both work and personal business from the same device, instead of having to carry separate devices for each function. This solution is designed to allow enterprises to let workers leverage the capability of ever-evolving smart mobile devices, instead of paying more for specialized devices, Marzilli said.

"Their technology seems to be second to none with respect to being able to give us that clear software virtualization that [is] required to enable convergence on a single commercial device," he said. "In the past, what we've been specializing in are very customized devices."

This capability could be particularly valuable to public-safety personnel in the future, as a single commercial device could be used to access both the proposed public-safety LTE network for first-responder functions and commercial-carrier networks for personal use, Marzilli said.

"We found something that we can literally flash onto those devices, and that's really what Open Kernel has — software that allows them to be able to have dual persona on one device," he said. "So, you can have your enterprise — that could be the public-safety network, General Dynamics' internal enterprise network or anything else — and it allows you to have a second appearance or a third appearance, which could be personal access to the open Internet or something else.

"To be able to do that on something as modern and capable as [a smart] device is pretty powerful."

Although the BYOD moniker would indicate that the workers would bring the device they own into the enterprise workspace, Marzilli said he believes that many enterprises will opt to buy the device — loaded with the virtual compartmentalization software that allows enterprise control — and let the worker use it for both work and personal business. However, the business models could vary greatly, depending on the needs for both the enterprise and the user, he said.

OK Labs will become part of General Dynamics Broadband, a subsidiary of General Dynamics C4 Systems that recently acquired IP Wireless to bolster its LTE expertise. Terms of the cash transaction were not disclosed.