New Samsung Android devices take on iOS for enterprise mobility

Samsung wants to displace Apple and BlackBerry for enterprise mobility, but adoption of its new devices could be hindered by their use of Android.

Samsung has a long way to go to convince IT departments its latest Android devices are fit for enterprise mobility, even as they continue to be popular with consumers.

Bring your own device (BYOD) is going to be the primary enterprise mobility model going forward, but not without IT preapproving select devices first, said Craig Mathias, a mobile analyst with the Farpoint Group, a mobile and wireless research firm based in Ashland, Mass.

While other Android vendors, such as HTC and Motorola, continue to struggle with market share and turning a profit, Samsung has shifted its focus from being just a consumer play to offering a range of products to appeal to IT pros, all in an effort to displace BlackBerry, Mathias said.

"Samsung is one of the few mobile device vendors outwardly embracing enterprise-friendly features," Mathias said. However, it hasn't done enough to convince IT pros that its line of Android devices are fit for organizations looking to move off of BlackBerrys or to adopt BYOD.

In addition, some organizations have written off Android devices in favor of the popular Apple platform. 

"We only let personal iOS devices into our network," said Curtis Hendrick, manager of emerging technologies and support services at the University of California Irvine Medical Center. "It's mostly because our mobile applications are all on the iOS platform, but Android just has too many security and [OS] fragmentation issues that it's not worth it for us to support it."

That would change if the hospital's application vendors developed for Android, if its employees -- mostly doctors -- wanted to use Android tablets instead of the iPad, and if Samsung or another Android vendor built security hooks into the devices to meet IT's requirements, Hendrick said.

But BYOD shops that support Android may consider Samsung.

Mercer LLC, a health care professional services company based in Norwood, Mass., has transitioned to a BYOD model and now supports both iOS and Android devices. The company has assessed ways to prevent highly sensitive and regulated personal health information from ending up on an employee device. If Samsung devices offer that kind of information management, the company would be open to incorporating those devices into its corporate program along with BlackBerrys, said Mike Mordas, Mercer's CIO.

Samsung pushes Android for enterprise mobility

Samsung views the enterprise as a massive opportunity -- if it can get IT shops like Mercer to buy into Android. 

"What we came to understand quickly is that Android isn't ready for the enterprise to increase its level of adoption," said Tim Wagner, Samsung America's general manager of enterprise.

To drive enterprise adoption, Samsung has taken a "kitchen sink" approach, partnering with anyone and everyone to offer a range of products, said Jack Gold, founder of enterprise IT consultancy J. Gold Associates in Northborough, Mass. 

At this year's Mobile World Congress, Samsung introduced a bevy of enterprise mobility offerings to go along with its Samsung Approved for Enterprise (SAFE) Mobile Device Management, or MDM, framework. It launched a dual-persona phone using Red Bend's type-1 hypervisor called TRUST, and it launched another dual-persona phone called KNOX, which leverages Centrify's identity access and management controls, along with security and management capabilities from AirWatch and General Dynamics.

TRUST creates a virtualized, multi-OS phone, while KNOX takes more of a secured container approach, similar to what BlackBerry offers with Balance in BlackBerry 10 devices. Further, Samsung also is partnering with VMware Inc. to offer an Android device that runs Horizon Mobile on a type-2 hypervisor that could launch this year as well.

As a worldwide conglomerate, Samsung is one of the few mobile vendors with the resources to take the something-for-everyone approach -- even if some of those models don't stick. "It's not a big deal for Samsung to try 18 different things and see which one rises to the top. Maybe it'll be SAFE, maybe it'll be KNOX, maybe it will be something else," Farpoint Group's Mathias said.

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