VMware Adds Motorola to List of Smartphone Makers Using Horizon Mobile

VMware says Motorola has joined Samsung and LG in producing devices that will include VMware's Horizon Mobile service. The service allows corporate employees to securely embed a virtual instance of their work phone on their personal smartphones.

VMware said it is working with Motorola Mobility to ship smartphones running VMware’s Horizon Mobile service through Softbank Telecom, a wireless carrier in Japan.

Horizon Mobile is VMware’s solution to the problem of how companies can accommodate employees who want to bring their own devices to work, but let the company secure corporate data on them. Horizon works by running a work phone as a virtual instance on the employee’s personal smartphone.

The Motorola Razr 201M will be the first Motorola smartphone to be enabled for Horizon Mobile, which will be offered as a managed service with a trial period beginning Dec. 10 in Japan, VMware said.

At VMworld 2012 in August, VMware announced that Horizon would be available on Samsung and LG smartphones and that its product road map calls for the service to be added in the near future to Apple iPhones and iPads running the iOS operating system.

Horizon Mobile is a way to address two major trends in mobile, wrote Srinivas Krishnamurti, VMware’s chief technology officer (CTO), in a blog post. One is the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) phenomenon, and the other is the habit of users constantly adding applications to their mobile devices.

“Almost all devices will have personal content and corporate content (apps and data) no matter who actually paid for the device—corporation or employee,” Krishnamurti wrote. “So the critical thing is to completely isolate personal from corporate to prevent data leakage and have IT only manage the corporate content.”

VMware announced the Horizon Mobile news Nov. 5 at vForum2012, a VMware-hosted user conference in Tokyo.

On a Horizon Mobile-enabled device, an icon on the user’s personal phone screen can be clicked on to open the work phone screen, while a similar icon on the work phone screen takes the user back to their personal phone screen. The corporate IT staff can secure data on the device, encrypt it and encrypt data as its being transmitted between the phone and the corporate network.

When VMware introduced Horizon Mobile at VMworld 2011, it said it initially would only go on devices running the Google Android OS, which struck some industry observers as short-sighted, as it ignored the large installed base of Apple iOS devices.

But Hoofar Razavi, director of product management for mobile solutions at VMware, said at VMworld 2012 that iOS had been on VMware's road map all along.

Motorola, now part of Google, LG and Samsung, all make smartphones running Android.

Razavi was asked at VMworld whether Horizon Mobile would be available on other smartphone platforms such as Research In Motion’s BlackBerry OS or Microsoft’s Windows Phone. He said support for those devices would be determined by demand for those OSes in the marketplace.