Companies may soon have a remedy for the age-old problem of employees whining about wanting to use their personal mobile devices in the workplace.
On Tuesday, VMware and LG unveiled a partnership in which the former's virtualization software will be loaded onto the latter's Android smartphones, thus enabling a single device to be used for both work and play. LG, which is seeking a larger share of the enterprise, plans to roll out smartphones with this feature sometime next year.
Employees' personal devices are usually more advanced than the ones on which their companies have standardized, but IT issues around securing corporate data on these devices have led many firms to ban their use in work settings. As a result, workers often end up lugging around separate devices for work and personal use, and they often end up looking kind of ridiculous.
Aware that happy employees are going to be more productive, LG is using VMware virtualization to create the necessary isolation between a mobile device user's work and personal accounts. This creates a win-win scenario in which employees get to use their own devices and corporate IT departments get to sleep at night, confident in the knowledge that the company's crown jewels are safe.
"Enterprise IT organizations are looking for a way to embrace the growing trend of employee-owned mobile devices at work, while still maintaining control over their corporate data," Ki S. Kim, vice president of global enterprise solutions at LG, said in a statement.
Mobile virtualization being applied in this context certainly isn't new. In November 2008, VMware rolled out its Mobile Virtualization Platform (MVP), a thin layer of software that is embedded on a mobile phone that puts the phone's operating system, applications, and data into a virtual machine that's separate from the underlying hardware.
Carriers would love nothing better than to see impediments removed from corporate mobile refresh cycles, and they're hoping that VMware and LG can generate momentum with customers. Humphrey Chen, Verizon Wireless' executive director of New Technologies, says the carrier's customers are interested in the technology.
"The kind of virtualization VMware offers helps to make this happen, and we're evaluating ways to help our customers achieve this," Chen said in a statement.