Samsung devices and tools in the enterprise: An admin's guide

Guide to Samsung devices, products and services

Samsung has become a formidable presence in both the enterprise and the consumer world, but with lots of devices, products and services on the market, it can be tough to keep everything straight.

Samsung devices are among the most popular on the consumer market, but Samsung has enterprise-friendly tools, too. The SAFE program and KNOX technology give IT administrators more control over devices and data. In its efforts to compete with Apple, Samsung continues to add more enterprise -- and consumer -- features.

Table of contents:

Samsung defined

Samsung Galaxy
"Galaxy" is Samsung's flagship line of Android devices. The first Galaxy smartphone came out in 2009 and the first tablet, the Galaxy Tab, debuted in 2010. Other devices in the Galaxy line include an Android camera, the Galaxy Note and Note 2 phablets and the popular S3 and S4 phones. Galaxy devices have Samsung Approved for Enterprise (SAFE) application programming interfaces (APIs), which makes them better suited for enterprise use.

Samsung Galaxy Note
The Galaxy Note is an Android smartphone with a large touchscreen and a stylus called S Pen. The first Samsung Galaxy Note had a 5.3-inch screen, and the Note 2 has an even bigger 5.5-inch screen. They're often called phone-tablet hybrids, or "phablets," because they are so big. The S Pen mirrors the experience of writing with a pen on paper.

Samsung Galaxy Mega Series
Even bigger than the Galaxy Note phablets are the devices in the Samsung Galaxy Mega series. The two new phablets have 5.8 and 6.3-inch screens but are lighter-powered than other Samsung devices, because they don't have high-resolution displays.

Samsung KNOX
Samsung's KNOX technology is a dual-persona technology that isolates corporate apps from users' personal apps. It's a modification to the version of Android that runs on Samsung devices, and it runs at the OS level rather than at the application level. Any applications that run on the corporate side of the device have to come from Samsung's app store, but companies can still build their own apps; the apps just have to be signed by Samsung. All the corporate apps come from the same place, so IT can worry less about mobile application management (MAM) for devices that have KNOX.

Samsung SAFE
SAFE stands for Samsung Approved for Enterprise and refers to devices that run a modified version of the Android OS. The modifications include 256-bit encryption and APIs that allow devices to integrate with mobile device management and virtual private network products. SAFE devices also have support for Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync.

Samsung products and features

Pros and cons of the Samsung Galaxy Note 2
For business, the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 has some impressive features. The device's large screen, long battery life, fast processor and expandable storage make it ideal for improving users' productivity. The Note 2 can load apps and process data faster than many other devices. The phablet is also SAFE-certified, which is a nice addition for IT.

Still, some users have filed complaints about the Galaxy Note 2: It's too big, the display is unnatural-looking, the interface is complicated to use and Android updates don't come out as quickly as users need them.

SAFE and KNOX improve device and application security
Android has basic Device Administration APIs for MDM, but more advanced MDM features, such as Samsung's SAFE APIs, have to be added by the manufacturer. In fact, SAFE-certified devices have more MDM features than any other Android devices. Samsung devices that are SAFE-certified and run KNOX -- application-level controls that are built into Samsung's version of the Android OS -- boast advanced MDM features, plus dual environments for work and personal use.

Getting to know Samsung Apps content portal
Samsung announced its own content store called Samsung Apps, a platform for getting content to customers that could help Samsung better compete with Apple and Google. Users are curious whether Samsung Apps will be exclusive to Samsung devices or if the content will be available for other devices as well. Some observers speculated that the portal and app store could lay the foundation for Samsung to release an operating system of its own.

What can you do with SAFE APIs?
SAFE can make managing and securing devices significantly easier. SAFE APIs work with MDM software and VPNs, and IT doesn't have to install any firmware on devices. SAFE enhancements include the ability to permit and disable features that admins can't control with basic Device Administration APIs, improved control of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth use, capabilities to enforce voice and text-message budgets, support for 50 Exchange ActiveSync capabilities, FIPS 140-2 encryption and much more.

Samsung versus Apple

It's Apple and Samsung's world
There are a lot of phones on the market with good hardware and quality displays, but Apple and Samsung are still the top dogs. The two companies have worldwide control of the market with a combined share of about 50% of the pie. There's still another 50% up for grabs, but one of the many other phones and OEMs will have to really impress consumers to crack Apple and Samsung's hold.

Samsung's Android battles Apple iOS for the enterprise
The enterprise-friendly features that Samsung has added to its devices put up stiff competition against Apple's iOS management capabilities. Samsung seems to know that it can't succeed unless it includes features that help place its devices on IT's list of approved devices. Working with Android could put Samsung at a disadvantage in the eyes of some IT pros, because the OS has a reputation for being less secure and more fragmented than iOS, but the company has revamped almost all of the Android OS to make it more enterprise-focused. The SAFE program and KNOX don't hurt, either.

Smackdown: iPhone 5 versus Galaxy S III
It's tricky to call a winner in the fight between the iPhone 5 and the Galaxy S III because they're both impressive phones. The Galaxy S III is customizable and the iPhone 5 is simple to use. The devices weigh about the same, cost the same and are both 4G LTE compatible. In the end, the decision just comes down to users' personal preferences.