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Is Your iPhone the Next Virtualization Battlefield?

By Amy Newman (Send Email)
Posted Dec 17, 2008


Mobile devices are increasingly finding their way in the server room. As ServerWatch columnist Paul Rubens noted last week, from iPhones to BlackBerries, smartphones are penetrating the enterprise. Sometimes they're sanctioned, but more often than not they're coming in as rogue devices. In general, having an official policy is critical, and enterprises that learn to use mobile products to their advantages will have the upper hand.

Virtually Speaking: When it comes to virtualization, the iPhone is becoming the smartphone of choice.

Not surprisingly, this trend hasn't been lost on the vendors selling into the tech space. Virtualization vendors are no exception to this, and if Gartner Research Vice President Monica Basso's recent prediction that, "by 2012, more than 50% of new smartphones shipped will be virtualized," comes close to bearing out, these vendors stand to gain big.

In November, VMware introduced the VMware Mobile Virtualization Platform, software embedded on a mobile phone to "decouple the applications and data from the underlying hardware. It;s optimized to run efficiently on low power consuming and memory constrained mobile phones." In other words, a virtual desktop on a phone.

To help achieve this end, VMware acquired Trango for its Trango Virtual Processors. The Trango hypervisor currently supports a variety of real-time OSes, including, Windows CE 5.0 and 6.0, Linux 2.6.x and Symbian 9.x — not ESX. As of now, no time frame has been set for ESX support.

Thus, despite VMware's awareness of the importance of including the mobile market, it's not actually playing there yet, and when it does arrive, it will likely find company.

Citrix is well aware of the importance of mobile devices and an ICA client for the iPhone, is in the works. A recent conversation with Simon Crosby, also hit on theimportance of mobile connectivity.

And the device of choice for this: The not so humble iPhone. Marty Kacin, CTO and co-founder of KACE, noted in a written statement, "as the iPhone continues to be the 'go to' smart phone for businesses, it's important for IT organizations to be able to efficiently deploy, track and manage the mobile devices, just as they would any other critical computing platform."

It's not surprising therefore that Kace this week opted for the iPhone when in its new addition of smartphone support.

On Monday, the virtual management appliance vendor released the KBOX iPhone Management Module, an appliance-based systems management solution for the iPhone. This module will be a standard feature of KBOX Systems Management v4.3, which is scheduled for release in January, Kacin told ServerWatch.

The iPhone Management Module is pretty standard fare as far as management tools go. It enables organizations to centrally deploy, manage and track iPhones throughout the enterprise, and Mac shops can integrate it with the KBOX Systems Management Appliance, the iPhone Management Module complements KACE's comprehensive support for Mac systems.

Specifically, the KBOX iPhone Management Module offers capabilities for: asset discovery and reporting to enable KBOX users to track iPhones and better understand associated the related costs and policy management; setting multiple configuration profiles across the enterprise; and policy-based set-up and configuration via iPhone profile deployment. It also features self-service profiles and a Custom Reporting Wizard.

Nothing terribly extraordinary about the KBOX iPhone Management Module's actual capabilities. What makes this new functionality noteworthy, however, is the fact that it is doing so for the iPhone, or in the most general of terms — a mobile device.

It provides a way for enterprises to (depending on how you look at it), harness the power of mobile devices or reign in mobile device use, that puts the device on par with the traditional heavyweights of the data center.

And that's something to watch carefully.

Amy Newman is the managing editor of ServerWatch. She has been covering virtualization since 2001.

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