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Red Bend Software Enters Mobile Virtualization Market

After carving out a big swath of the mobile software management market, Red Bend Software is now putting mobile virtualization in its sights via the purchase of VirtualLogix, which was created in 2002 to target the embedded virtualization market. VirtualLogix customers have included OEMs, original design manufacturers (ODMs), service providers, systems integrators and semiconductor manufacturers. The company's flagship VLX product features a Type one bare metal hypervisor.

Mobile software management is a set of technologies that enables a service provider to manage software and mobile devices over the air. You may not have heard of Red Bend, but if you've had your mobile phone operating system updated from one version to the next--via a technology known as firmware over the air, or FOTA--there's a good chance Red Bend Software made it happen.

Red Bend's FOTA customers comprise an A-list lineup of electronics manufacturers, including LG Electronics, Motorola, NEC, Sharp, Sony Ericsson, and other large handset manufacturers. In Red Bend's business model, customers such as service providers license Red Bend's software, which allows them to provision their new subscribers with the ability to configure their device settings to add new features, applications and services over the air.

According to Lori Sylvia, Red Bend executive vice president of marketing, a couple of years ago, her company started sensing the impending convergence of mobile software management and mobile virtualization, as service providers began expressing an interest in adding their own "container pack" to mobile devices. This container pack would enable them to create their own domain that they could manage separately from the device's OEM. That desire for independent domains opened the door for mobile virtualization.

"Mobile virtualization was coming at the same problem, but in a different but complementary way," Sylvia notes. "Mobile virtualization is about enabling multiple virtual machines to run separately and securely on a mobile device so that one VM could be an operator-owned VM where they provision and have their own applications. Another one could have the customer's profile, and the consumer could have their own applications that they control."

Sylvia says in the short term the privately held Red Bend will allow mobile software management and mobile virtualization to stand on their own, but over the next couple of years they will increasingly be converged.

Significant competition includes the 500-pound gorilla VMware, which bought its way into the market through the purchase of Trango in 2008. VMware seems blithely unconcerned with Red Bend's market presence. According to Srinivas Krishnamurti, VMware's senior director, Mobile Solutions, "Red Bend is a leader in FOTA, where carriers use their software to push firmware and software updates to mobile phones. This is completely orthogonal to virtualization and as such we do not compete with them."

Orthogonal, indeed. It may be easy for Krishnamurti to dismiss Red Bend out of hand now, but the mobile virtualization market potential is huge, and a very aggressive Red Bend is well placed to make a big impression on both competitors and customers once it fully assimilates VirtualLogix and starts generating momentum.

Posted by Bruce Hoard on 11/02/2010 at 12:48 PM


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