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VMware Brings Virtualization to Mobile Phones

VMware is bringing virtualization to mobile phones through its new VMware Mobile Virtualization Platform (MVP). Built on technology acquired from Trango Virtual Processors in October, VMware MVP will help handset vendors reduce development time and get mobile phones with value-added services to market faster. In addition, end users will benefit by being able to run multiple profiles—for example, one for personal use and one for work use—on the same phone.

VMware MVP is a thin layer of software, embedded on a mobile phone, that decouples the applications and data from the underlying hardware. It will be optimized to run efficiently on low-power-consuming and memory-constrained mobile phones. The MVP is planned to enable handset vendors to bring phones to market faster and make them easier to manage.

“VMware is excited to extend the benefits of virtualization to the mobile phone market,” said Paul Maritz, VMware’s president and CEO. “By abstracting the applications and data from the hardware itself, we expect that virtualization will pave the way for innovative applications and services for phone users. We look forward to working closely with our partners to bring new mobile solutions to market faster.”

Today, handset vendors spend significant time and effort getting new phones to market due to the use of multiple chipsets, OSs, and device drivers across their product families. The same software stack doesn’t work across all the phones and therefore must be ported separately for each platform. This process is slow and expensive and ultimately slows time to market. VMware MVP will virtualize the hardware, enabling handset vendors to develop a software stack with an OS and a set of applications that aren’t tied to the underlying hardware. This will enable the vendors to deploy the same software stack on a wide variety of phones without worrying about the underlying hardware differences. At the same time, by isolating the device drivers from the OS, handset vendors can further reduce porting costs because they can now use the same drivers irrespective of the OS deployed on the phone.

"Gartner sees virtualization in the mobile space as a very promising and potentially a fast-emerging market,” said Monica Basso, research vice president at Gartner. “We predict that by 2012, more than 50 percent of new smart phones shipped will be virtualized. Virtualization can enable enterprises and consumers to easily manage and secure their phones and it can also help handset vendors reduce bills of materials and shorten development cycles to allow for faster releases.”

Increasingly, handset vendors and carriers are looking to migrate from proprietary OSs to rich, open OSs to enable their customers to access the widest selection of applications. With this transition to open OSs, protection of trusted services such as digital rights management, authentication, billing, and so on is becoming an increasing concern. VMware MVP will let vendors isolate these important trusted services from the open OS and run them in isolated and tamper-proof VMs so that even if the open environment is compromised, the trusted services aren’t affected.

Companies are under increasing pressure from employees to support employee-owned mobile devices. Choice, however, brings with it complexity in managing a wide variety of devices in terms of both cost and security. It also brings increased risk in securing and managing employee-owned devices, especially if they contain confidential information. VMware MVP will let IT organizations deploy a corporate phone personality that can run alongside the employee’s personal phone on the same physical device.

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