The Nexus One and the Droid prove that the Android invasion is fully underway, and the next battlefront will be the enterprise. Consumer gadgets often force their way into the corporate culture, and what is the point of having a smartphone--or a "superphone" like the Nexus One--if it can't keep you connected with work?
For smaller companies, there are no real hoops to jump through. You buy an Android smartphone, you sync it with your PC, you set up your e-mail accounts to update on the device, and voila! You're in business.
For added business functionality, you can throw in Documents to Go or RoadSync to enable the Android smartphone to work with Microsoft Office documents and sync with Exchange Server messaging. If you want some additional security, you can install Mobile Defense to track your smartphone through its GPS, backup your data, and remotely lock the device or wipe the data in the event the phone is lost or stolen.
From the user's perspective, it seems all of the tools are already there. However, larger companies have policies, and standards, and security requirements, and compliance mandates. Users can't be allowed to just connect to the network with any device they choose, no matter how slick and popular it might be.
One of the primary reasons that the BlackBerry has succeeded in establishing itself as an indispensable business tool in so many enterprises is that RIM developed the BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) to enable corporate IT departments to manage and maintain the devices.
The lack of any such controls is also one of the primary reasons that the iPhone is struggling for corporate acceptance--along with the requirement that iTunes be installed on every PC for users to sync the device. Adding Exchange messaging helped, but it doesn't address the myriad of issues corporate IT administrators must face in trying to maintain the network and communications infrastructures.
Tools exist, though, to bridge that gap and provide a platform similar to BES for administering other smartphones in the enterprise. The aptly-named Good for Enterprise, is such a tool, and now there is a Good for Enterprise client for Android smartphones.
Good for Enterprise has been around for a while. The Good for Enterprise server is installed in the corporate network, similar to BES, and each device requires a client access license (CAL). Client applications exist to support Palm, Symbian, Windows Mobile, and iPhone--and now Android.
Good for Enterprise provides IT administrators with the tools they need to securely integrate the various smartphone platforms into the enterprise--like end-to-end encryption of communications and data, and the ability to remotely erase data and manage password policies.
IT administrators can deploy and upgrade the Good for Enterprise client, as well as maintaining policies by user, group, smartphone platform, and more. The Good for Enterprise management dashboard lets IT administrators track detailed information such as the types of smartphones connected to the network, the wireless carrier each uses, the current firmware version, and usage stats.
For users, the Good for Enterprise client provides a single application for e-mail, contacts, and calendar. Updates for e-mail, contacts, and calendar are pushed to the smartphone. Notifications of new messages and meeting reminders are pushed to the device as well. Functionality varies some by smartphone platform.
Devices like the Nexus One and the Droid will continue to battle the iPhone and other devices for smartphone dominance among consumers. Enterprises have to accept that they will be assimilated and find ways to embrace the smartphone revolution without compromising security and compliance.
Good for Enterprise represents an intelligent approach because its not platform-specific. With a variety of client applications spanning all of the popular smartphone operating systems, enterprises can allow employees to use the device of their choosing and still maintain control over the network and corporate data.