Virtualization company VMware is entering into a partnership with Korean handset manufacturer LG Electronics to incorporate virtualization technology into the latter's smartphones in a bid to provide flexible, platform-agnostic user access, yet be able to safeguard corporate data, according to a VMware executive.
Srinivas Krishnamurti, senior director for mobile solutions at VMware, said the team-up is meant to address the increasing challenges faced by IT professionals who can no longer dictate the type of mobile devices employees use to access corporate data.
During a conference call briefing Tuesday, the executive pointed out that with the rising popularity of handsets like Apple's iPhone and the various Android-based smartphones among office workers, IT administrators have to find a way to provision secure access to company data for the myriad devices.
To address this, VMware has created a native virtualization app that will sit dormant on Android-based smartphones made by the Korean phone maker, Krishnamurti said. Once the IT manager has provisioned access for the user, the virtualization app will "come alive" and provide access to corporate information, he added.
Currently, only Google's Android OS will be able to run this app, although the company will decide on other mobile platforms "according to user demands", noted the executive. He added that the company is targeting only smartphones, as feature phones will not be able to meet the minimum hardware requirements needed to run its virtualization technology.
Smartphones that have the app pre-installed will hit the market in 2011, but specific launch dates will be determined by telcos in the respective markets, he said.
In terms of distributing the app, the senior director revealed that the company has yet to decide whether it will preload the app onto all Android-based smartphones or make it available via Google's Android Market for download, or do both.
"Focused on different areas"
Other mobile virtualization companies such as Open Kernel Labs (OK Labs) and recent entrant Red Bend are also active in this space, but Krishnamurti stated that these two companies are "focused on different areas" that VMware is playing in.
"OK Labs and Red Bend view [mobile] virtualization as an end to itself in that they are intent on selling their technologies to hardware vendors, which, in turn, will help these manufacturers reduce production costs," he elaborated. "VMware, on the other hand, sees virtualization as a means to an end that will allow for software to address existing enterprise issues."
However, OK Labs spokesperson Georgia Hanias informed ZDNet Asia that the company's mobile virtualization is "well ahead" of VMware and Red Bend, with its software deployed in more than 1 billion mobile devices.
She said in her e-mail that the company's SecureIT software, for instance, helps maximize security on mobile virtualization platforms. "The software allows secure voice, text, app and video features to be built into off-the-shelf mobile phone hardware and software," she added.