Will VMWare cut it on a mobile?

VMware's mobile virtualisation platform promises to play an important role in the mobile enterprise.

VMware's mobile virtualisation platform promises to play an important role in the mobile enterprise. Last week, the company unveiled VMware Mobile Virtualisation Platform (MVP), a software product embedded on a mobile phone, that decouples the applications and data from the underlying hardware. It will compete head to head with alternatives from Research in Motion, Microsoft, Nokia with Symbian, Google Android and the iPhone's MacOS.

Paul Maritz, president and chief executive officer of VMware, says, "By abstracting the applications and data from the hardware itself, we expect that virtualisation will pave the way for innovative applications and services for phone users."

If VNWare is successful, businesses will be able to write an application once, and install it on smartphones from different suppliers, says Dale Vile, managing director of Freeform Dynamics. Such technology is not new - companies such as Tao Networks and Dexterra offer similar products. But he says, "VMWare, is well-known in the enterprise market, which should make it easier to sell to enterprise users."

This strategy has already worked for Microsoft, which promotes its .net Compact Framework mobile development platform for Windows Mobile 6.0, by making it compatible with .net for Windows. Similarly, Rim allows enterprise users to access applications such as SAP via the company's Blackberry Enterprise Server software.

VMWare, on the other hand, is promising that its Mobile Virtualisation Platform will be platform-independent and support mobile operating systems including Windows CE 5.0 and 6.0, Linux 2.6.x, Symbian 9.x, eCos, µITRON NORTi and µC/OS-II.

Ovum analyst Laurent Lachent, however, warns that some developers may be reluctant to switch to the new platform. "Software developers already creating applications for the Blackberry, Microsoft Compact Framework, Symbian, Google Android and iPhone are unlikely to switch to VMWare."

Users looking to make enterprise applications mobiles, will need to decide whether they take the Microsoft or Rim approach with a single hardware/software platform or deploy technology such VMware Mobile Virtualisation Platform.

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