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Dual-identity smartphones could bridge BYOD private, corporate divide

November 26, 2012 06:01 AM ET

Currently, VMware's Horizon Mobile supports Apple's iOS and Android-based smartphones. VWware hasn't announced its plans for Windows phones yet. It's currently waiting to see how adoption rates scale before moving to modify the hypervisor for that platform, Krishnumurti said.

iOS products are relatively easy to support, Krishnumurti said, because Apple's devices at the factory are updated when that operating system is upgraded. And typically, 50% to 60% of iPhone and iPad users download an upgrade in the first two weeks it's out. By contrast, the Android phone market is more fragmented, he said. Some OEMs upgrade to the latest version of the OS, others don't, he said.

"It's hard for us to put our arms around it. By virtualizing, we normalize and abstract away all that fragmentation and give IT their own version of Android to manage," he said. "And, there's no chance a Type 2 hypervisor will show up on an Apple device" because of the proprietary nature of Apple's hardware.

Other mobile virtualization players

Other companies, such as Israel-based CellRox and Good Technology in Sunnyvale, Calif. are also developing technology for dual-identity smartphones.

Like VMware's Horizon Mobile software, CellRox's ThinVisor is a kernel-enabled hypervisor that runs on the smartphone and creates multiple "personas" to keep corporate data and private data separate. In September, CellRox announced it had launched its BYOD Multi-Persona app toolkit for Android Ice Cream Sandwich-enabled mobile device manufacturers to embed the capability on their smartphones.

Good Technology places encrypted containers in a sandboxed segment of a file system on the phone, where corporations can run their own apps securely and separate from a user's personal apps. Gartner's Dulaney said Good Technology's product isn't truly a hypervisor because it has basically built an application development container.

CellRox demonstrates its multi-persona technology using a Samsung Galaxy S II.

ARM and AMD plan new hypervisor processors

For many dual OS-instance technologies to succeed, today's mobile processors will have to become more powerful to handle the added workload and incorporate native data management and security features.

Red Bend has signed a partnership agreement with chip maker Advanced RISC Machines Ltd. (ARM) to produce processors powerful enough to run dual-OS phones. Those are expected out in the second half of 2013.

"BYOD is not just about running two OSes," said Ron Perez, an AMD fellow and the director of its security architecture organization. "It's [also] about what to do with the data produced in that corporate environment that's on the device."

In a move away from its traditional server market space, AMD earlier this year also partnered with ARM to develop x86 chips that will have ARM microcontrollers dedicated to mobile security.

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