VMware Envisions Virtualization in Post-PC, BYOD Era

VMware wasn't just looking to save money when it launched a BYOD plan with the mandate that all of its U.S. employees use their personal mobile phones for work. It was taking a crash-course that would help shape its vision of post-PC era computing.

Wed, May 16, 2012

CIO — Late last year, VMware launched a new bring your own device (BYOD) plan under which every one of its 6,000 U.S. employees was required to use his or her personal mobile phones for work. The mandate was more than a cost-saving measure. VMware appears serious about establishing itself as a leader in post-PC era enterprise computing, and getting intimate with the benefits and challenges of BYOD is essential to that plan.

"We needed to eat our own dog food," says Javier Soltero, CTO of SaaS and Application Services at VMware.

Entering the Post-PC Era

VMware was born on the idea of desktop virtualization, but its server virtualization technologies really put it on the map. It has since added cloud infrastructure management and a cloud applications platform to its portfolio. Now it's taking a much more expansive view of desktop virtualization with a vision it calls End-User Computing that encompasses extending its middleware to all end-user devices in the enterprise, especially smartphones and tablets.

"We're focused on filling in the part beyond desktop virtualization and truly delivering solutions that offer knowledge workers and end-users more broad, secure, manageable ways to leverage mobility," Soltero says.

A Hypervisor for Mobile Phones

One of the ways it plans to do that is VMware Horizon Mobile Virtualization, a project that started as a mobile hypervisor for a particular Android phone, and which may just solve one of the stickier problems of BYOD: how to manage access to sensitive company data stored on personal mobile devices. With Horizon, customers will be able to virtualize a complete mobile phone image that can be remotely managed by IT and provisioned and deprovisioned rapidly. With Horizon Mobile Virtualization, employees could use their personal device to do things like checking Facebook status, and then switch to the business instance to create expense reports or answer business-sensitive emails.

But it's not enough to simply answer the management problem of BYOD, Soltero says. Truly embracing the post-PC era means changing the way we think about delivering and consuming applications. The vision goes far beyond mobility—it's about transforming the way end-users interact with all the tools they use to do their work. VMware has always had the goal of "business transformation through IT transformation," Soltero says.

"We're trying to bring to life a new application platform specifically tailored to next-generation devices," he says. "Mobile is a symptom. It's not the cause. The cause is the shift from a multi-function Website view of the world, where every application was really approached from a feature-rich portal where you access any one of potentially 50 or 100 different functions. You show up at this one door and there's probably 50 or 100 doors behind it. That doesn't work here. It doesn't work for consumer applications and it doesn't work for enterprise applications."

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