BlackBerry (BBRY) has launched the long-awaited Z10 smartphone in the US. BlackBerry is attempting to re-infuse the market with some help from T-Mobile USA mobile virtual network operator partner Solavei. In the meantime Samsung, now the world’s leading maker of mobile devices, readies its own enterprise solutions.
Samsung calls its Samsung for Enterprise initiative SAFE (Samsung Approved For Enterprise), a reference to its focus on security. The world’s leading smartphone maker starts off at a slight disadvantage when it comes to security since its phones run Google’s Android operating system, considered less secure than other systems because of its open architecture. But mobile security experts say there is an unmet demand for secure Android devices, particularly among government customers.
Select models of the Samsung Galaxy smartphones sold by all five U.S. mobile carriers are branded as SAFE. Samsung has set up support and quality assurance for 338 smartphone management policies important to IT, including 256-bit encryption on the device, enhanced support for Microsoft’s Exchange ActiveSync, support for leading Virtual Private Network software and for a number of Mobile Device Management systems.
Android hasn’t been the top choice of IT shops for ease in management partly because there are so many OS versions and models available. Still, Android devices make up half of the smartphones sold around the globe, and the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend is in full swing.
The quality assurance programs for IT manageability at Samsung will work across five carriers. To provide SAFE quality assurance, Samsung has offered a Software Development Kit to MDM and VPN providers with access to Samsung’s Application Programming Interfaces, allowing those vendors to integrate their software on the SAFE devices for each different wireless carrier.
Samsung is also in the process of gaining FIPS (Federal Information Processing Standard) compliance for the Galaxy S III, which is important to healthcare, government and financial firms. Samsung has won FIPS compliance on the Galaxy S II and Galaxy Tab 10.1 Wi-Fi tablet from Verizon Wireless. SAFE will be certified on other tablets in the future. Some governments desperately want to use iPad but don’t feel it is secure enough. It would be a lot easier for somebody to take an Android tablet and add the level of security and create a government specific product, a government-oriented tablet that would meet all their security requirements with Android.
The MDM vendors Samsung has worked most closely with for the Galaxy S III launch include Afaria, MobileIron, AirWatch and SOTI. A large enterprise would need to have MDM software installed in its data center to offer the full benefits of the integration with the Galaxy S III, although ActiveSync does offer some MDM capabilities useful for small- and medium-size businesses (SMBs). MDM can be used by corporations to control how many or what kind of apps their workers use, as well as for remote wipe of data from lost devices. MDM sometimes is also a tool to help IT distribute apps from its own internal app stores or public app stores.
An added advantage of using an Android device inside an enterprise is that custom apps can be less expensive to develop, given Android is built on open source software.
One benefit of Samsung’s approach is that Samsung is not creating its own MDM but is partnering with an established crop of them. SAFE in combination with MDM tools approaches the security and manageability of BlackBerry Enterprise Server, a mainstay of corporate users even with the decline of maker Research in Motion. The benefit of SAFE with an MDM system is that a corporation won’t need to pay for RIM licenses or work behind RIM’s Network Operations Center or pay for ongoing maintenance.
SAFE will integrate with all the main MDM platforms, it presupposes an MDM platform already in place. Between the 300-plus IT policies of SAFE and the existing management control and base level security of an MDM platform, the stigma in the enterprise for Android starts going away. However, BES has support for more than 500 IT policies, more than the SAFE approach of 338.
Over the last couple of years, Samsung’s enterprise group was chartered with developing an enterprise platform that could take advantage of the Android ecosystem but that also delivered best in class security policies, application management, email, unified communications etc. to compete with BBRY. Samsung believes that it has enhanced SAFE to effectively take share from BBRY.
SAFE from Samsung is expected to take away some of the Enterprise market share of Blackberry.