My friends at VMware recently sent me a note telling me 1) that they had acquired Trango Virtual Processors and 2) they were jumping into the mobile device virtual machine market.Trago VMware has chosen to rename Trago's product as VMware Mobile Platform. This isn't the only entry into this market, however. Others have been engaged in bringing virtual machine technology into this market for quite some time.
Here's how VMware describes the acquisition
VMware, Inc. (NYSE: VMW), the global leader in virtualization solutions from the desktop to the datacenter, today announced plans to bring virtualization and its many proven benefits to mobile phones through the new VMware Mobile Virtualization Platform (MVP).
Built on innovative technology acquired from Trango Virtual Processors in October 2008, VMware MVP will help handset vendors reduce development time and get mobile phones with value-added services to market faster. In addition, end users will benefit by being able to run multiple profiles – for example, one for personal use and one for work use – on the same phone.
What is VMware MVP?
VMware MVP is a thin layer of software that will be embedded on a mobile phone that decouples the applications and data from the underlying hardware. It will be optimized to run efficiently on low-power-consuming and memory-constrained mobile phones. The MVP is planned to enable handset vendors to bring phones to market faster and make them easier to manage.
Benefits to Handset Manufacturers
- Accelerated time to market: - Today, handset vendors spend significant time and effort getting new phones to market due to the use of multiple chipsets, operating systems and device drivers across their product families. The same software stack does not work across all the phones and, therefore, must be ported separately for each platform. This process is slow and expensive and ultimately slows time to market. VMware MVP will virtualize the hardware, enabling handset vendors to develop a software stack with an operating system and a set of applications that is not tied to the underlying hardware. This will enable the vendors to deploy the same software stack on a wide variety of phones without worrying about the underlying hardware differences. At the same time, by isolating the device drivers from the operating system, handset vendors can further reduce porting costs because they can now use the same drivers irrespective of the operating system deployed on the phone.
- Easy Migration to Rich Operating Systems: - Increasingly, handset vendors and carriers are looking to migrate from proprietary operating systems to rich, open operating systems to enable their customers to access the widest selection of applications. With this transition to open operating systems, protection of trusted services such as digital rights management, authentication, billing, etc. is becoming an increasing concern. VMware MVP will allow vendors to isolate these important trusted services from the open operating system and run them in isolated and tamper-proof virtual machines so that even if the open environment is compromised, the trusted services are not impacted.
Benefits to Businesses and End Users
- Multiple Profiles: - Companies are under increasing pressure from employees to support employee-owned mobile devices. Choice, however, brings with it complexity in managing a wide variety of devices in terms of both cost and security. It also brings increased risk in securing and managing employee-owned devices, especially if they contain confidential information. VMware MVP will allow IT organizations to deploy a corporate phone personality that can run alongside the employee’s personal phone on the same physical device.
- Persona on the Go: - Smart phones are quickly becoming a combination of a PC and a wallet rolled into one package. A person’s phone persona – an individuals’ collection of applications, pictures, videos, music, emails, bank info, credit card information, PIM, etc. – is becoming much richer and more valuable. Consequently, the ability to protect and migrate personas will become an important purchasing decision. VMware MVP will save the persona as a set of files so that all the applications and data on the phone can be managed as a collection of files. People can then easily move their persona to a new device making the upgrade to a new phone virtually painless.
Visit www.vmware.com/mobile for additional information about VMware Mobile Virtualization Platform.
Developers of handheld, mobile computing devices, such as smartphones can look to virtual machine technology to improve overall device performance, add interesting new features, while still reducing hardware and software-related costs. This could result in more capable smartphones at lower prices.
Others, such as VirtualLogix, have been doing this for quite some time (see the post VirtualLogix VLX for Network Infrastructure v3.0 Supports Windows for more information on VirtualLogix.) Although not a stated goal for the open source community behind the Linux for Mobile Devices project, it would be straightforward for them to support for either Xen or KVM in future offerings.
There are some key questions that this acquisition raises. I'm going to touch on a few of them.
- The virtual machine technology in VMware Mobile Platform differs from that supported by VMware on other platforms. Does this mean that users of this technology will see the requirement for costly training for developers to fully utilize the capabilities of this technology?
- Will VMware attempt to migrate its virtual machine technology to replace that found in VMware Mobile Platform in the next release to unify its virtual machine technology offerings? If so, will this delay future releases and raise potential compatibility and reliability issues?
- Will current application code and hardware drivers move easily into this virtual environment or will it be necessary for users of this technology to re-architect and re-implement code using new tools?
In the end, it is good to see VMware throw its weight behind mobile virtualization. This more will tend to educate developers about this area of virtualization and help them come to understand that a different approach could be very beneficial. This could boost the efforts of suppliers such as VirtualLogix and the open source community building Linux operating systems for mobile devices.