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Dual-identity smartphones could bridge BYOD private, corporate divide

Lucas Mearian | Nov. 27, 2012
Late next year, consumers will be able to buy smartphones that either come with native hypervisor software or use an app allowing them to run two interfaces on the phone: one for personal use, one for work.

"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."

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 Apples 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.

 

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