VMware on Monday extended its virtualization platform to the mobile phone platform with the unveiling of its VMware Mobile Virtualization Platform based on a previously unannounced acquisition it closed last month.
The new platform lets mobile phone users work with multiple virtual phones at the same time, said Srinivas Krishnamurti, VMware's director of product development management and market development.
The new Mobile Virtualization Platform is similar in concept to the company's ESXi server virtualization technology, Krishnamurti said.
MVP is 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 is separate from the underlying hardware, Krishnamurti said.
"Mobile phones don't have big CPUs, memory, or battery life, so it is highly optimized for the mobile environment," he said.
The new platform has two primary beneficiaries, Krishnamurti said.
The first is handset vendors and developers who currently struggle with time-to-market issues resulting from having to port their applications to devices with multiple processors and chips in their phones.
"This takes time," he said. "With MVP, they can build their software stack one time, and virtualize it over the hardware. So they can use the same software stack regardless of the hardware."
MVP would also help them migrate to more rich operating systems such as Google Android, Windows Mobile, or Linux, Krishnamurti said. "They can add security and trusted services features in a separate virtual machine so these couldn't be compromised," he said.
The second beneficiary is consumers who have to deal with a couple of different issues, Krishnamurti said.
First, consumers who now have both a corporate and a mobile phone would be able to combine them into a single phone by having the two designed as virtual machines. "With virtualization, they can have a virtual environment for their work personality and one for their personal personality," he said. "Now they can keep them separate."
The other benefit for consumers is ease in upgrading to a new phone. "With virtual environments, they can copy the virtual machine files over to the new phone and get up and running quickly," Krishnamurti said.
The VMware Mobile Virtualization Platform is built on technology VMware got as a result of its acquisition of Trango Virtual Processors last month, Krishnamurti said. It is expected to initially support Window CE, Linux, and Symbian when it becomes available on mobile phones in the next 12 months to 18 months, with other operating systems such as Google Android and Palm OS to be added over time, he said.
Krishnamurti said several handset vendors and carriers are working on proof of concept devices, but he declined to name any of them.
He himself is carrying a prototype, and likes it. "The fact that I don't have to carry two phones, that I can have two personalities, is very exciting to me," he said.