What VMware and LG are talking about is offering employees a single phone running a small virtualization layer -- in essence, your work phone becomes an application that you access from within your personal phone. The personal phone sits at the Android layer as it would today, but the work phone would live as an additional application within the personal phone, each with their own phone number and their own separate environment. The work environment alone would be managed and controlled by the IT department, leaving employees the freedom to use their personal phone as they see fit.
For corporate IT departments, this solves another big problem to do with compatibility. Much like virtualization has abstracted away the underlying hardware for desktops and servers, this new solution could help with supporting content securely across various handset types by providing IT with a method of being able to manage a common, single virtualized OS on every phone regardless of the hardware being used.
Initially, the company said the virtualization software will only work with Android-based smartphones. VMware hopes to get it operational on other mobile OSes in the future, but will let market demand determine where to focus their attention. Android seemed to be the obvious choice for the initial platform since it is open source and so widely distributed and popular with consumers.
In terms of distributing the new virtualized mobile app, company officials commented that they have yet to decide whether it will preload the application onto the Android-based smartphones, or make it available for download on the Google Android Market.
Pricing has yet to be announced, but the goal is to have this virtual environment working on LG Android smartphones sometime in 2011. Specific launch dates will be determined by telcos in their respective markets.
Because this new mobile virtualization platform is being written on the Android platform, it makes me wonder why it couldn't operate on Android-based tablets as well. That would certainly make this announcement even more interesting, wouldn't it?
This article, "VMware's virtualization of Android smartphones makes two-phones-in-one possible," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in virtualization and cloud computing at InfoWorld.com.