VMware Horizon Mobile: Work Phone, Inside Your Phone

VMware's new technology unveiled at VMworld essentially allows a phone within a phone--addressing some key worries for enterprise IT.

Robert Mullins, Contributor

August 30, 2011

4 Min Read

VMware has launched new technologies that let workers use personal mobile devices for work, while letting IT retain security and control over work-related apps on those phones. At its VMworld 2011 conference in Las Vegas, VMware Tueday unveiled Horizon Mobile, which can basically run a virtual machine (VM) of a work-only smartphone inside your personal phone.

The company also introduced VMware Horizon, which delivers work-related mobile applications to devices like smartphones and tablet computers, and VMware View 5, an update to the software VMware offers to deliver a virtual desktop image to workers desktop computers.

Initially, Horizon Mobile will only deliver the work phone VM to smartphones that run Google's Android mobile operating system, on phones manufactured by LG and Samsung, said Raj Mallempati, director of product marketing for enterprise desktop solutions at VMware.

However, VMware eventually expects to add support for other Android phones and tablets and to devices running Apple iOS, RIM BlackBerry and Microsoft Windows Phone 7 operating systems--although he could not be more specific on when.

The Horizon Mobile technology is "a phone within a phone," Mallempati said. "Let's say I have my personal Android mobile phone and I joined VMware today. What VMware is going to do is provide me a corporate phone, which is a virtual machine that is completely encrypted, completely managed and secure, and they are going to deliver that onto my device."

This "mobile virtual platform," as he described it, will contain all the work-related apps an employee would use in the course of his job, such as Microsoft Exchange, Calendar, SharePoint, or corporate software-as-a-service apps, such as for customer relationship management, from a company like Salesforce.com.

The worker could maintain the personal phone basically as a host for the work VM, and keep a separate contact list for personal friends, music, games, or Facebook.

Separating the work and personal phones addresses a major concern for IT managers, as more employees bring their own smartphones or tablet computers into the workplace.

"The challenge is that as end users get more and more freedom to use these devices, the control of those devices becomes a big problem. The cost is increasing, issues of security compliance risk are increasing," said Mallempati. "How do we give users the freedom they want and need and not compromise on the control that IT absolutely needs to have?" Running the work VM gives IT better control to make sure data is encrypted in work applications as needed. Also, the VM can be wiped from the device if the employee leaves the company, without affecting that person's personal apps and data.

Running a phone within a phone raises some questions about the impact on processing speed, power management, memory and the like. But Mallempati said the VM and the host phone should work well with any ARM processor typically used on mobile devices. He said there could be an application performance penalty because an Android OS is running inside another Android OS, but that "it will be pretty minor, with 'minor' being less than 10 percent."

As for power management, what VMware has seen in working with LG and Samsung is that the power management penalty of Horizon Mobile is "less than 1 percent," he says.

While Horizon Mobile only delivers the VM to Samsung and LG phones running Android, for now, VMware Horizon enables IT application management immediately for Apple iPhones, iPads, Motorola devices, BlackBerrys and phones running WP7. Applications to be managed, either virtual or cloud-delivered, include most Windows applications, but also SaaS offerings such as Salesforce and any other business app optimized for mobile.

VMware View 5, meanwhile, is an update to an app VMware has offered for more than four years that manages, secures and delivers virtual desktop images to desktop computers. Enhancements in version 5 include personal computer over Internet Protocol (PCoIP) optimization that reduces bandwidth consumption by 75 percent. That lets more users be on the network at once and supports heavier use of high-bandwidth media such as video. The update also enables a desktop image to be delivered to tablet computers like the iPad or tablets running Android.

See our take on day one of VMworld and VMware's push to be a data center operations expert.

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About the Author(s)

Robert Mullins


Robert Mullins has covered the technology industry in Silicon Valley for more than a decade for various publications. He has written about enterprise computing including stories about servers, storage, data center management, network security, virtualization, and cloud computing.

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