VMware Horizon Mobile delivers BYOD functionality to Verizon in US

Mobile virtualization provides dual persona features for Android smartphone devices

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In other words, this technology won't work on just any off-the-shelf Android device. VMware Horizon Mobile has a kernel module that remains dormant on the user's device until they download a supported VMware Switch application from the Google Play store. Users then log in to the corporate environment with their corporate credentials, and behind the scenes IT can provision and manage the work environment with appropriate applications and policies.

What's important to note in this latest announcement is that Verizon is installing the missing kernel module as part of an over-the-air (OTA) system update. Two of the carrier's phones, the LG Intuition and the Motorola RAZR M, already have the update, making them the first Android phones on the Verizon service to be considered VMware ready.

VMware is currently working with Verizon to push software updates out to other Android devices on the carrier's network in the coming months. VMware also said that a similar iOS version will be made available in the near future. These updates are going to prove important to VMware, because in a numbers game, these first two available smartphone models won't make much of a dent in today's BYOD demand.

VMware's Horizon Mobile offering also solves another problem. Within the corporate world, Apple's iOS currently has a market share edge over Android. One of the reasons for that is the fragmentation of Android. There are many different versions of the Android OS currently in use, and that means there would be a number of different variants of the operating system trying to access a corporate network. This fragmentation makes it difficult for IT organizations to put together a comprehensive security and manageability plan in support of Android devices. 

To respond to that challenge, VMware Horizon Mobile is said to leverage device virtualization in order to normalize that fragmentation. Afterward, it would allow IT to deploy and manage its own Android workspace that looks and behaves the same on any Android device.

Again, this is all good news for end-user computing. But is VMware's technology taking too long to mature? After all, they company has been talking about it since 2008.

VMware dominated the server virtualization market by getting out in front of the competition fast and early and by working across multiple hardware vendors. That isn't the case here. Within the mobile virtualization initiative, other big vendors are already pushing their own dual persona container technologies in the market, such as BlackBerry Secure Work Space, BlackBerry Balance, Samsung KNOX, and AT&T Toggle. Not to mention, Horizon Mobile is currently limited to one cellphone carrier in the United States. On top of that, VMware has mentioned nothing about tablet support -- a fast-growing segment of the BYOD craze.

That said, it's hard to take anything away from VMware. This latest Horizon Mobile announcement is a huge feather in the virtualization giant's cap. With this announcement, the technology becomes more than just another slide in one of the company's VMworld keynote presentations. After many years, it is finally available and being offered with perpetual licensing starting at $125 per user.

Is this the right answer? Can VMware live within the limited amount of CPU and memory on today's smartphone? Is this price tag too high for what it provides? Will this be the holy grail of mobile endpoint management? What do you think? Sound off.

This article, "VMware Horizon Mobile delivers BYOD functionality to Verizon in US," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in virtualization at InfoWorld.com.

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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