VMWare has a mobile solution that may finally bridge the gap between IT managers and users. It is well known that IT departments usually don’t like to support an array of heterogeneous devices, and it is not a surprise that “business phones” are not really what employees want these days. The status-quo is a choice between two handsets (and two plans) or one that is “uncool”, or at least not loved.
With VMWare’s mobile solution platform, a number of Android handsets can have dual personalities (personal/professional). VMWare can create a second virtual Android environment on the same phone, making two Android OSes run at the same time. One would be for personal use, while the other is under complete IT control. In essence, this would help solve the two handset dilemma, at least for Android users.
Of course, there are legitimate performance and battery life questions that will arise from this. When asked, VMware said that users should not “feel” any performance impact. This is open to interpretation, and we would love to see it in action because in a Virtual Windows environment running on a Windows machine, it is noticeable. That said, don’t think of it as an “emulation” (as in emulating a PSOne on a PC). The virtual Android OS does not need to emulate the hardware, or have a second set of drivers running on top of a virtual machine. Things should be much lighter than that
This technology was talked about in 2009, and has already been demonstrated at Mobile World Congress in 2011. LG said that it would integrate VMWare in a number of upcoming Android phones. Now Samsung is also joining the party, and that’s a big deal because of the volume of Android phones that the this ships. Some changes have to be made at the OS level, so don’t expect every handset makers to jump on that ship quite yet.
At the moment there is no iOS version planned (at least publicly), and this probably has to do with the fact that the integration happens too deep inside the operating system for Apple’s taste.
For IT managers, the best part is that the Mobile Virtualization platform is integrated with VMWare’s Horizon Application Manager. From the cloud-based manager, IT personnel can manage, and provision new devices and revoke old ones. Now, it remains to be seen which handsets will effectively work with the VMWare Mobile Virtualization Platform, but we can only hope that LG and Samsung’s best devices do.