Thoughts on Systems

Emil Sit

Feb 25, 2009 - 2 minute read - Technology android mobile virtualization mvp n800 nokia vmware vmworld

Mobile virtualization demonstration at VMworld

At today’s VMworld keynote, CTO Steve Herrod included a brief demonstration of the project that I have been working on at VMware since last May: the Mobile Virtualization Platform (MVP). One of the downsides of working in industry as opposed to academia is that you have to wait for big release dates such as this before being able to talk about your work, so I’m excited to have the opportunity to blog a little bit about MVP today.

Steve chatted with Jerry Chen, who showed a Nokia N800 running the MVP bare-metal hypervisor which was hosting a Windows CE guest and an Android guest. The relevant part of the keynote, including the N800 loading and launching the Android VM can be found on Vimeo. The demo was also shown in a booth: Senior R&D Director Julia Austin walked through the demo for ITPro who has posted a 3 minute video of the full demo, which I’ve embedded at the end of this post.

Running Android and WinCE on an N800 is pretty cool in and of itself, but our demo also highlights one of the key use cases for mobile virtualization, namely the separation of work and personal settings. With your “work phone” as a virtual machine, it will be possible to easily backup and transfer your work settings from one phone to another, while keeping these settings cleanly partitioned from your personal settings. Similarly, when you upgrade a device to the next generation, you will be able to port your phone over with relatively little hassle.

By providing a stable virtual platform, MVP will also hopefully simplify application development by allowing developers to target MVP instead of a myriad different devices. Defining the virtual platform and mapping it into different physical platforms is an interesting challenge.

Some of the other challenges and benefits of virtualization in the mobile space are discussed in an eWeek article by one of the founders of VirtualLogix, a competitor in this space. At VMware, we are working hard on addressing these challenges with the aim of providing benefits to all stakeholders, from phone OEMs to enterprises to end-users. Hopefully, you’ll be able to see the results of this work in the palm of your hand in the near future!