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Dual-identity smartphones could bridge BYOD private, corporate divide

November 26, 2012 06:01 AM ET

VMware's Horizon Mobile software

VMware has also been working on the idea of a Type 1 hypervisor on mobile phones. Four years ago, VMware purchased France-based Trango Virtual Processors, a maker of Type 1 hypervisor technology. After several years of development, however, VMware decided not to use Trango's technology because it didn't see support among smartphone manufacturers for hardware-based virtualization, according to Srinivas Krishnamurti, VMware's senior director of Mobile Solutions.

"Type 1 hypervisors for mobile phones are hard to build and maintain in a scalable manner," Krishnumurti said. "The chip makers -- the Qualcomms and the Texas Instruments of the world -- were like, 'Why should I invest in rewriting all my device drivers, and doing a bunch of battery, graphic and performance optimizations that no [systems manufacturer] is asking me for?'

"So it's hard to do it without an ecosystem, and the ecosystem is not going to do it unless their customers are asking for it," Krishnamurti added.

VMware chose a Type 2 hypervisor product, Horizon Mobile, which will either be embedded on a smartphone and awaiting activation or a free, downloadable app. It will be available to U.S. smartphone users next year.

VMware already has deals in place with LG, Samsung and Motorola to embed its Horizon Mobile software on their devices. Motorola is already selling its Droid Razr M smartphone in Japan with VMware's hypervisor technology.

"Our expectation is there will be multiple devices from each vendor available in the U.S. in 2013," Krishnamurti said. "And there are three or four other vendors we've not yet announced. Our expectation is there will be a lot of Android phones that will have our hypervisor on them."

On the corporate side, IT administrators who want to enable employee smartphones for business use can buy VMware's administrative interface, Horizon Mobile Manager. When an employee with a Horizon Mobile-enabled smartphone wants to activate the "corporate" interface, all he or she needs to do is choose the app; it will ask them to log in with their corporate name and password.

The Horizon Mobile Manager server on the backend will then recognize the log-in, and a pre-configured Android or iOS instance (with all the work apps) will be pushed to the smartphone. If an employee tries to transfer data or apps between the corporate instance and the private instance, the transfer is automatically blocked.

"So, we basically monetize on the management side and not on the app or the hypervisor side," Krishnumurti said. "Enterprises are the ones who are having the problems with security and making sure data doesn't leak. So they're quite willing to pay for that."



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