The new hypervisor has been rebranded as VMware's Mobile Virtualization Platform (MVP) and targets an emerging growth market. Market researcher Gartner has predicted that by 2012, over half of all smartphones being shipped by suppliers will be virtualized.
Although still being evaluated by mobile handset vendors and not yet generally available, VMware MVP will eventually be embedded in mobile phones where it will perform many of the same tasks that the company's ESX virtualization software does today for servers. This includes decoupling applications and data from the device itself as well as the OS.
Currently, there are some memory and power constraints for virtualizing mobile devices. However, according to Srinivas Krishnamurti, director of product management and market development for VMware, "We don't believe that hardware is going to be a growth lock for virtualization."
VMware is touting a number of benefits for both mobile phone vendors and subscribers. Benefits for vendors include a reduction in product development time because currently, software stacks will not work across different phones and must be ported separately.
In addition, subscribers to carrier mobile services would gain the ability to have a "persona" -- consisting of profiles, applications and data -- untethered from a specific device when upgraded or replaced. Using this approach, for example, a business directory and personal directory could be instantiated on the same phone, facilitating the trend toward employee-owned mobile phones.
Although the market is still nascent and no separate business unit has been established by VMware, the announcement can be seen as another interesting competitive move by the company. Neither Citrix nor Microsoft have similar initiatives underway, although a company called VirtuaLogix currently offers many similar capabilities.
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