The most interesting meeting I had at this past VMworld 2011 in Las Vegas was with Hoofar Razavi, Director of Product Management Mobile Solutions for VMware. I had known that VMware had been working a mobile device virtualization solution for the past couple of years. However, I didn’t know that the availability of this technology is imminent. Hoofar explained that VMware had successfully implemented a mobile device hypervisor which currently supports Google’s Android OS. This is very near to the Holy Grail for most IT professionals who need to lug around at least two different mobile phones where one phone is for work and the other is personal. Hoofar explained that the basic phone needs of the IT Pro are in essentially in conflict. IT needs to secure their phones and provide the ability to wipe the phone if it’s lost. However you don’t want IT to be able to wipe your personal data and Apps so today many IT Pros use multiple devices. Being able to have both work settings and personal settings in the same phone lets you use a single device without losing any functionality.
VMware’s mobile hypervisor essentially allows an Android phone to have two completely separate and independent partitions: a work side and a personal side. Hoofar demoed the technology for me on a Samsung mobile phone running Android. Touching a standard App icon immediately switched the phone from its work side to its personal side and back again. The switching was instantaneous. Each side had its own personalization settings and applications. Both sides were continuously available all of the time. Hoofar pointed out that one important difference between this device and a standard mobile phone was the integrated notification bar. The virtual phone’s notification bar shows event for both partitions and uses different colors to differentiate between the events that occur in each of the partitions. Responding to a notification immediately switches the phone to the appropriate partition and App. The work partition of the phone is managed with VMware’s Horizon Mobile Manager.
For the initial release the mobile hypervisor only supports the Android OS. Hoofar explained that VMware initially choose the Android platform because of its dominant market position and that while VMware hadn’t committed to implementing their hypervisor for other mobiles OS they are considering it. VMware’s first hardware partnerships are with LG and Samsung.