The split-personality smartphone is gaining speed. On Wednesday, VMware announced that it would make its dual persona
technology available for some Verizon Android smartphones.
The technology, branded VMware Horizon Mobile, supports two instances of the OS, one for personal content and apps and one for business use. The supported Verizon devices are the LG Intuition and Motorola's RAZR M, and the company said it expects to expand to more devices this year. The only hardware requirements for Android devices, VMware said, is at least a single core processor and 1GB of memory.
Through this technology, a corporate workspace on the device is controlled and managed by the IT department, and functions completely independently of the personal workspace, where the user's own data and apps reside.
In its announcement, VMware cited the experience of Beaufort Memorial Hospital in South Carolina. Its chief information officer, Edward Ricks, said in a statement that "this dual persona approach gives us full control over our data on personally owned or corporate-owned mobile devices without requiring us to unnecessarily manage the entire device."
In addition, the preconfigured mobile space for work is tied to the user instead of the device, the workspace can be distributed to a range of Android devices without customization, and all corporate assets are encrypted. VWware said Horizon Mobile can integrate with existing virtual private networks, authentication solutions and standard enterprise directory solutions.
When an authorized user logs into the Horizon Mobile Manager server, an instance of Android OS is pushed to the device in a Type 2 hypervisor configuration, in which the second OS resides as a guest of the host OS. This dual persona technology was first announced in August by VMware for Samsung and LG phones.
In early 2013, BlackBerry unveiled its Balance software, which similarly provides two BlackBerry 10 OS instances for work and personal space. The company has announced similar technology for iOS and Android devices, called Secure Work Space, available through an update to its BlackBerry Enterprise Server 10.
Late last year, mobile software management vendor Red Bend announced a Type 1 hypervisor dual persona, in which two OS's are running side-by-side. It requires integration with specific hardware, such as the new ARM Cortex-A15 processor, and some observers consider it more secure because it is hardware-based and the OSes are completely separate.
Charles King, an analyst with industry research firm Pund-IT, noted that the dual persona approach "definitely qualifies" as a potential solution to the IT headaches that have accompanied the "bring your own device" trend.
King also pointed out that, in VMware's dual persona, the workspace essentially evaporates when you log off, to be reloaded in the morning when you log on again. This means that, if the device is lost, the company's apps and data are not residing on the device.