VMware And Telefónica Build Schizo Smartphones


VMware has announced partnerships with Telefónica in Europe and Verizon in the US for mobile virtualisation

Virtualisation specialist VMware has teamed up with mobile network operators Telefónica and Verizon to develop ‘split personality’ Android smartphones, using the company’s mobile virtualisation technology.

Enterprises using VMware Horizon Mobile will no longer have to buy dedicated smartphones for their staff. Instead they can isolate an individual’s personal and professional profiles at the application level and support separate platforms on a single device. Employees can bring their own phone to work and will not have to forfeit it when they leave the company.

Two phones in one

VMware Horizon Mobile effectively creates two virtual phones in one. IT departments can securely provision, manage and de-provision an employee’s corporate mobile workspace – including phone, email, applications and data – to their Android device over-the-air, while enabling the employee to retain the privacy and control of their personal mobile.

VMware chief executive Paul Maritz explained in a keynote speech at the VMworld 2011 conference that the enterprise phone runs as a separate virtual machine. “We’ve used type 2 hypervisor technology on Android to do this,” he explained. Employees have access to corporate applications and data resources via the cloud, and these are stored on a separate virtual machine to apps downloaded from the Android Market.

“The work phone is controlled by the enterprise. Users can only go to the enterprise app store to get the applications for their work phone,” said Maritz. “And that’s securely walled off from what happens on the principle side of the phone. So if somebody happens to have the misfortune of installing a hacked version of Angry Birds, it isn’t going to sit there reading your corporate address book.”

Telefónica and Verizon are both working with hardware partners to bring VMware’s Horizon Mobile solution to market. Samsung’s Galaxy SII will be one of the first devices to run the software on Telefónica’s European networks, and LG will offer devices on the Verizon Wireless network in the US.

“The ability to provision virtual work phones via the cloud means that corporate virtual phones can be easily updated and redeployed in case of loss or theft,” said Carlos Morales, cloud and apps director of Telefónica Digital. “As a result, expenses are reduced, employees are not bothered by restrictive policies and, most importantly, the corporate environment is fully secured.”

VMware said that the companies will be trialing the technology in the coming months.

Horizon project

Mobile virtualisation is something of a hot topic, as IT managers are coming under increasing pressure from staff wishing to bring their own devices into the office. But they have to balance the security risks of incorporating consumer devices into the corporate infrastructure.

The VMware offering means that businesses will be able to securely manage an employee’s connected mobile workspace in isolation from their personal environment. In return, these employees will also be able to easily access corporate data whilst on the go.

The mobile offering is part of VMware’s wider Horizon Project, designed to help enterprises update their legacy desktop computing environments to what the company calls “a more modern, user-centric application and data delivery model”.

This is predominantly based on a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), where all the computing and data storage is done in a central data centre and not on the device itself. When the device is de-commissioned, all the corporate data belonging to the company stays within the company – not in the device.

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