Samsung Pushing Mobile Security to Gain Favor in the Enterprise

In 2011, Samsung Mobile launched a program called Samsung For Enterprise (SAFE), which added basic security to mobile devices used in corporate settings. But that initial effort to curry favor with IT departments didn't go far enough to meet enterprise needs, so last year Samsung announced the Knox program to build in more advanced security.

  • Company: Samsung Electronics Co.
  • Headquarters: Seoul, South Korea
  • Employees: 369,000
  • 2013 Revenue: $213 billion
  • CEO: Oh-Hyun Kwon
  • What They Do: Samsung Electronics is a huge conglomerate that includes the Samsung Mobile business unit, which offers smartphones, smart watches, tablets and related software in a vigorous battle with Apple for mobile dominance.

Knox 1.0 included a security-enhanced version of Android, for example, and created an isolated "container" that separates work data from personal data. In February, Samsung announced Knox 2.0, which gives IT shops cloud-based purchasing and control of Samsung services and apps, and offers a Knox Marketplace of 150 business-class apps.

"We have taken a comprehensive approach, differentiating our offerings and making sure that they all work together to meet the needs of our customers," says Nick Rea, vice president of technical solutions at Samsung Mobile's Business Innovations Group.

Still Trailing iOS in the Enterprise

Samsung's smartphones and tablets -- popular in the consumer market -- are slipping into enterprises through bring-your-own-device (BYOD) programs. But becoming a major enterprise player will be a long journey for the Korean consumer electronics giant.

Studies show that Samsung is the leading maker of Android devices used in the enterprise, but Android devices are still far outnumbered by Apple iOS products in the workplace.

Samsung's enterprise push has been most successful when people are allowed to choose their own smartphone for work, rather than when enterprises buy smartphones or tablets for their employees, says ABI Research analyst Jason McNicol.

Corporate IT buyers are concerned about Android security, an issue Samsung is tackling through its SAFE and Knox programs. "The SAFE devices [are] for more casual users, someone who is checking calendar, contacts and email. Knox is going to be for your more security-driven enterprise," such as companies in the financial-services, government and healthcare industries, McNicol says.

"This was Samsung's first time doing it. It has a lack of experience [in the enterprise], and it's going to take time to gather that experience. So the question is, How quickly they can improve?" he says.

Samsung in Battle for the Mobile Enterprise

After the long-delayed and underwhelming rollout of Knox 1.0, Samsung still has to prove that it can release high-quality products in a timely manner, McNicol says. If it can do that, enterprises will start trusting the company, says Steve Chong, manager of mobility and collaboration at Union Bank.

Some of the bank's employees use Samsung Galaxy smartphones in a BYOD program, managed with software from Good Technology, a mobile device management (MDM) vendor.

Samsung says Knox is being rapidly adopted at a rate of 7,000 activated devices per day, on average.

Forrester Research analyst Henning Dransfeld, in a blog post, gives Samsung credit "for consolidating the fragmented Android OS landscape and turning it into a secure enterprise proposition." But he cautions that Samsung's strategy is "based on additional monthly license fees which cost more than MDM," and concludes that "they have a battle on their hands to calm fears about vendor lock-in."

Read more: What you need to know about Samsung's 2014 TVs

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Tags Consumerization of IT | BYODconsumerization of ITsamsungAppleSamsung ElectronicsIT managementKno

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