VMware developing dual OS smartphone virtualisation

Work and home phones apps and calls will run on the same handset at the same time via virtualisation

VMware has flagged smartphones as the next platform in the evolution of virtualisation, but at least one major competitor, Microsoft, says that it sees no demand for the technology.

Speaking to Computerworld, Srinivas Krishnamurti, VMware’s head of mobile phone virtualisation said the company’s vision for virtualisation on smartphones went beyond the basic dual-boot prototypes currently in development to one that ran both a private and work operating system and profile at the same time.

“We don’t think dual booting will be good enough - we’ll allow you to run both profiles at the same time and be able to switch between them by clicking a button,” he said. “You’ll be able to get and make calls in either profile – work or home – as they will both be live at any given point in time.”

VMware has successfully demonstrated Android and Windows Mobile on a last generation smartphone with 128MB of RAM, Krishnamurti said, however, for production, 256MB of RAM would likely be the recommended spec.

“We don’t think that CPU, memory or capacity will be an issue for running two operating systems,” he said.

Krishnamurti said VMware was exploring multiple user interface scenarios to find the best one for intuitively managing the features, applications and calls of effectively two phones running on one.

"A couple of the paradigms we are working with is to have multiple screens you can switch between to run your apps, and for calls we think you may have different ring tones set up for home or work,” he said. “For apps you just click a button to go to Facebook or to go to your customer list, or we could just munge them all next together, except when you click on it, it opens and runs in a different virtual machine.”

In this way, and through additionally utilising a remote management console, IT managers could isolate work applications and data from personal applications and data, thus addressing security and management issues, Krishnamurti said.

Detailing the market argument for smartphone virtualisation, Krishnamurti said that with people using smartphones more like a PC than a phone, the same issues which plague the PC - security and management costs – would soon become issues on smartphones.

Another major driver for smart phone virtualisation was the growing trend of employee-owned IT, in which employees were responsible for purchasing and managing their own PCs, notebooks and smart phones, Krishnamurti said.

“CIOs are saying they are spending a lot of money on buying end-points be they PCs or smart phones; if we can get out of buying these endpoints then it will save us a lot of management time and money,” he said.

“Employees are saying they already have a cool phone, and they don’t want to carry a second one, so they get the choice of whatever device they want rather than the one the corporation has picked for them.”

Over the page, the Microsoft smartphone vision

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