Red Bend - Virtualization as the Road to Mobile Security

By Tony Rizzo, Editor in Chief — November 29, 2011

Back in September 2010 Red Bend Software, a key player in the Mobile Software Management (MSM) space, acquired VirtualLogix, a vendor delivering real time virtualization technology specifically for mobile handsets. Through further development at Red Bend, that virtualization technology - VLX - will soon come into play as a means to offer the ability to truly segment a mobile device into different virtual machines that are completely secure relative to each other. 

Red Bend anticipates using the technology to enable enterprises to clearly segment user and corporate mobile device images in a completely secure way. All that is true of virtualization at the big iron level is also true of virtualization at the mobile device level, and Red Bend is working to make true and secure segmentation of corporate and user virtual mobile device environments an enterprise reality. Further, VLX will be delivered as core mobile device software that is already installed when the mobile device is purchased. Red Bend envisions mobile devices being delivered with a virtualization capability "certification" out of the box.
Red Bend's MSM software now sits on over 1 billion mobile devices, and provides device manufacturers and wireless carriers with the means to upgrade and update firmware-based (on-device) software. Typically referred to as FOTA - Firmware Over the Air - the company has had considerable success in landing the major device vendors for its MSM platform. This means that Red Bend already has deep relationships with the major device players, which in turn eliminates major roadblocks in terms of Red Bend's ability to drive business development around the virtualization concept.
The addition of VirtualLogix’s products and experienced team has enabled Red Bend to quickly enter the high-growth mobile virtualization market and broaden its management solutions for device manufacturers, semiconductor vendors, software developers and service providers.
Red Bend's view of the mobile device management market is one of legacy technical and commercial constraints that have created a tight coupling between software, services and hardware, resulting in a slowing down of innovation and driving up costs. Red Bend intends to meet this challenge by combining its widely deployed mobile software management products with the VirtualLogix technology. The company’s solutions will create the ability to securely and independently manage different software assets on mobile devices and bring advanced, cloud-based mobile services to market over time.
It Begins with ARM
Red Bend's first efforts here will be in working with ARM, and its MSM and virtualization technologies will support ARM's new energy-efficient Cortex-A7 MPCore processor. Red Bend’s MSM will integrate with the virtualization extensions in the Cortex-A7 and Cortex-A15 processors to efficiently and securely manage firmware, software and mobile devices over the air, and enable multiple operating systems to run simultaneously on a single device.
VLX, which is technically known as a Type-1 hypervisor, de-couples hardware management (ARM architecture) and application environments (Android, Linux, proprietary, etc.). As a result, VLX will provide the software intelligence necessary to enable the effective migration of the device workload between the Cortex-A15 and Cortex-A7 processors within the VLX hypervisor, bringing the benefits of what ARM refers to as "big.LITTLE" processing (again, the notion of big iron virtualization at the mobile device level) to virtualized mobile devices. Together with ARM, Red Bend will enable a new class of secure, enterprise-ready open-platform mobile devices supporting the Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) to work trend.
Mobile Enterprise finds Red Bend's approach to MDM (through its MSM and VLX technologies) both innovative and forward thinking. Enterprises need to begin investigating the possibilities that become available for creating truly secure BYOD environments.


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