Virtualization – the concept of running multiple “virtual” instances of an operating system – is already popular on servers and workstations. Now, it’s coming to mobile phones as well, officials at EMC subsidiary VMware said.
Benefits of virtualizing a mobile phone may not be obvious, but they make sense. For example, users can have a “phone persona” that easily transfers to other devices. That way a phone can be used for work and for one’s personal life. It would also ease the process of moving data when people get new phones. Virtualization can simply life for developers, who wouldn’t have to worry as much about the differences between phones. For carriers, an advantage would be placing proprietary technology in the device’s own software, but opening a virtualization layer for third-party developers.
Srinivas Krishnamurti, vice president of emerging markets, said VMware’s new Virtual Mobile Processors (VMP) software will probably appear in phones within 2 years. VMware acquired a startup called Trango Virtual Processors last month, which already developed ARM-based virtualization software but had no customers.
“The thing we didn’t want to do is built technology because it’s cool, we wanted to build technology because it’s useful,” which meant overcoming challenges such as limited battery life, limited memory and slow CPUs compared to real computers, he explained. “Our working assumption is virtualization is going to be a foundation, think of it as a building block,” he said.
VMware plans to announce partnerships for the software next year. The company is not alone — competitors in mobile virtualization include Open Kernel Labs and VirtualLogix, Krishnamurti said.