VMware Horizon Mobile for Android inches closer to reality

After four years in the making, it looks like VMware will finally bring mobile virtualization to market. The rest of Horizon Suite will take longer.

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BOSTON -- Most of VMware Inc.'s Horizon Suite won't be available until next year, but its mobile virtualization platform could be out sooner.

VMware and its wireless carrier partners will make announcements about Horizon Mobile for Android "shortly," Chief Technology Officer Stephen Herrod said. It has been nearly four years since VMware first unveiled its mobile virtualization plans. As recently as October 2011, the company and carrier partners Verizon Wireless and Telefonica said Horizon Mobile for Android would be available within months, but a product has still yet to materialize.

"The partners that we already announced will be going to market," Herrod said in an interview this week.

More on Horizon Mobile for Android

VMware Horizon Suite expected to trump VDI for mobile app delivery

VMware's Horizon Mobile Manager definition

Other components of the VMware Horizon Suite will be Horizon Application Manager, which is out now, plus Horizon Mobile for iOS and Horizon Data (formerly Project Octopus). Unlike Horizon Mobile for Android, Horizon Mobile for iOS does not use mobile virtualization; instead, it relies on application wrapping technology to separate personal and corporate assets on the same device.

"Apple has different rules and approaches to this," Herrod said. "That will take us a little while. We'll bring that to market next year."

Herrod also discussed how the consumerization of IT affects job roles, the components of an effective mobile strategy and changes in application delivery models:

How do you see job roles shaking out in terms of who's going to be handling end-user computing initiatives like Octopus or Horizon Application Manager?

Herrod: There used to be the Windows team or the desktop team, but it tends to be a different team that takes on mobile. The notion of general IT services is also a different team as well. It tends to be pretty high in the organization where you go, especially if you're trying to show an overarching suite.

I think there are roles that don't yet exist that will be in charge of all end-user access, especially as more things are outside the firewall and are not on inventory owned by the company.

What factors should IT administrators focus on when they're deciding which approach to take with their mobile strategy?

Herrod: I see a lot of companies making a decision based on what industry they're in. Specifically, I think almost all decisions around cloud or consumerization come down to what the data is and what restrictions or importance is placed on different types of data. I have a very different discussion when I'm speaking with Fidelity or someone versus when you're speaking with a consumer goods company or a tech company. The ultimate goal is to have the data be available and safe and make as good of a user experience as possible.

Do you think that the rise of mobility in the enterprise and new ways of delivering and deploying applications to various endpoints will marginalize the role of traditional application and desktop virtualization?

Herrod: I'm not sure if it's going to be a replacement so much as an addition. At least, most of the models that I'm seeing from people is, 'I haven't replaced my laptop. I just added two new devices.' I kind of sense what the real thing will be is that there's a larger collection of applications available that people deal with, and trying to have a common policy and common data across traditional Windows as well as those is probably where the challenges will be over the next few years.

At the same time, you're seeing this notion of an app store come up again, too. … People, they know how to get access to the right app that they need at any given time, so it's more about offering a catalog and then letting people get to it on whatever device.

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