In the last months virtualization.info reported several times that virtualization vendors were moving to attack the mobile and embedded devices market.
We mentioned the Samsung effort to port Xen on ARM processors, the Qumranet plans to distribute KVM as part of any Linux mobile, and even the prediction of the Citrix Vice President of Advanced Products.
Right now the Trango hypervisor supports an interesting (but very limited) range of real-time OSes, including: Windows CE 5.0 and 6.0, Linux 2.6.x, Symbian 9.x, eCos, µITRON NORTi and µC/OS-II.
Through Trango, VMware plans to release a Mobile Virtualization Platform (MVP), probably a scaled-down, optimized version of ESX for embedded devices powered by ARM CPUs (like the new Cortex-A8 and Cortex-A9).
Of course VMware doesn’t say when the mobile revolution will happen as there’s a couple of complex issues to solve:
- First of all the fact that customers can run a Windows XP virtual machine on their phones doesn’t mean that it’s usable. So the mobile market has to release a device able to satisfy certain requirements (what Citrix calls the Nirvana phone since a long time).
It’s just our opinion but to interact with a guest OS this device should be something like an Apple iPhone or a Nokia Internet Tablet but much bigger (probably 4 times the iPhone or 2-3 times the Internet Table).
- Secondarily, the vendors producing the real-time OSes (Microsoft, Apple, RIM, Palm and now Google) must accept the fact that their platforms are virtualized and provide support accordingly.
This is going to be the same slow, painful process already experienced when VMware first introduced its products for server virtualization.
Despite these two issues seem huge to address right now Gartner is optimistic and predicts that by 2012 more than 50% of new smart phones shipped will be virtualized.
If true the virtualization vendors that want to compete with VMware will have to build the necessary know-how very fast, possibly acquiring Trango competitors.
A very interesting one is VirtualLogix which has a solid position and it’s funded by Intel.
The Gartner prediction has been included in the virtualization.info Virtualization Industry Predictions.