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VMware Brings Virtualization To Smartphones

The mobile virtualization platform could enable phone makers to bring handsets to market faster, and it could simplify migrating personal data off phones.
With the announcement of the Mobile Virtualization Platform on Monday, VMware is setting its sights on the mobile space.

VMware's MVP is a thin layer of software that will be embedded on mobile phones. It decouples the applications and data from the underlying hardware. The company said it will be optimized to run efficiently on low-power-consuming and memory-constrained devices.

"VMware is excited to extend the benefits of virtualization, which we pioneered for x86 hardware, to the mobile phone market," VMware CEO Paul Maritz said in a statement. "By abstracting the applications and data from the hardware itself, we expect that virtualization will not only enable handset vendors to accelerate time to market but can also pave the way for innovative applications and services for phone users."

For handset vendors and developers, MVP could reduce the amount of time it takes to make device-specific tweaks to applications and operating systems. With MVP a developer can build a software stack once, virtualize it over the hardware, and use the same software stack regardless of the handset's hardware.

For the end user, the virtualization platform could potentially make it easier to migrate personal data off a phone and onto a new one. An end user also could have a handset that's capable of running multiple operating systems or profiles. For example, a customer with embedded virtualization software could have a work profile that follows the company's security policies, as well as an unfettered personal profile on the same handset.

The company said it's in talks with major handset vendors to embed the platform onto phones, but has not disclosed which cell phone manufacturers have expressed interest. VMware expects the first phones with the virtualization technology to be available by the end of next year or the beginning of 2010. Currently, the supported operating systems include Windows, Symbian, and Linux, and the company said it will look at others.

To accomplish the move to mobile phones, VMware acquired and is utilizing technology from Trango Virtual Processors. The purchase was consummated in October for an undisclosed amount, but it was not made public until Monday.