Does Your Smartphone Need a Split Personality?

As smartphones proliferate and people attempt to use the same device for work and play, virtualizing the smartphone will become a necessity, according to Srinivas Krishnamurti, VMware’s head of mobile phone virtualization. Of particular focus, Krishnamurti told Computerworld, will be the ability to run multiple operating systems on a handset and to toggle between the two for work and personal use. As he put it:

“We don’t think dual booting will be good enough – we’ll allow you to run both profiles at the same time and be able to switch between them by clicking a button,” he said. “You’ll be able to get and make calls in either profile – work or home – as they will both be live at any given point in time.”

Startups such as VirtualLogix and HipLogic, which are also creating virtualization platforms for smartphones, undoubtedly agree, and as such may be acquisition targets for VMware. VirtualLogix can also virtualize telecommunications gear, cramming the functions of multiple boxes and routers into one.

VMware is arguing that a smartphone is becoming more like a PC, and will require virtualization in order to address security and management issues for the corporate world, while also enabling the personalization that employees demand from their mobile devices. However, with their almost ubiquitous wireless connections, smartphones are actually the perfect place to implement some kind of identity separation online — in the cloud. At that point perhaps device virtualization could be moot.