Samsung mulls enterprise cloud services for mobile devices

Samsung is thinking of building a hosted cloud service to make its Galaxy tablets and smartphones attractive to the enterprise

Samsung is looking into the idea of hosting its own cloud services to extend the appeal of its Android-based consumer smartphones and tablets to enterprises, the company said on Wednesday.

With more employees bringing personal devices to work, the company is thinking about building cloud-based services for enterprises to connect disparate devices based on different OSes, said Dave Lowe, vice president of enterprise sales at Samsung Mobile, during a launch event for the Samsung Galaxy S III smartphone in New York.

"When I talked about ... knitting together, stitching together devices, it's absolutely a direction we want to go -- creating cloud services," Lowe said.

Samsung offers a range of products that includes smartphones, tablets, PCs and thin terminals based on different hardware and OSes. There is a growing interest in Android, Windows 8 and Windows Mobile, and enterprises will ultimately need to deploy cloud services -- either from Samsung or third parties -- so data can be easily shared between devices, Lowe said.

Samsung is heading toward offering cloud services, but Lowe didn't say when such services would be deployed. For now, Samsung is working with third parties to offer cloud services.

Smartphone was the world's largest smartphone seller worldwide in the first quarter this year followed by Apple, according to Strategy Analytics. Samsung sold 44.5 million units in the quarter, while Apple sold 35.1 million units.

A huge opportunity has opened up in the enterprise market for Samsung with Research In Motion's BlackBerry devices now losing favor, Lowe said.

"We've got this growth in prosumer devices, and then you've got what's going on with Blackberry. Every enterprise is looking for an alternative to BlackBerry. There needs to be something that they can grab on to that is Blackberry-like," Lowe said.

There has been a lot of fragmentation around Android devices that made it difficult for customers to standardize on a single platform. Samsung, however, is building an enterprise-grade platform for its mobile devices. Samsung's consumer products include the Galaxy smartphones and tablets, and the company is giving the devices features that would allow them to be added to the list of approved devices in enterprises.

For example, Samsung is starting to certify its products as SAFE (Samsung Approved for Enterprise), with features that make them easier for IT departments to manage on-site and remotely. The certification also means that the devices have features that ensure they are used in compliance with IT policies set by a company.

The Galaxy S III is the first to get SAFE certification and upcoming tablets will also be SAFE certified, Lowe said. The SAFE-certified devices are being designed to be managed similarly.

SAFE is exclusive to Android devices for now, Lowe said. There are still questions on how to extend SAFE to Windows as many of the security features have already been built into the OS, but Samsung wants to move in that direction, Lowe said.

With SAFE, companies can encrypt and remotely wipe out data if a device is stolen. A system administrator can also enable or disable Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and camera or track assets and enforce roaming policies. Samsung offers mobile-device management tools including AirWatch, SAP's Sybase Afaria and Juniper Networks' Junos Pulse. SAFE devices also support VPN (virtual private network) settings from Cisco, F5 and Juniper for secure access to corporate networks.

As part of SAFE, Samsung has opened up hundreds of APIs (application programming interfaces) to carriers and software partners, which can build enterprise-level features for smartphones and tablets. For example, Samsung opened up APIs to AirWatch, whose mobile-device management tool works far better on Samsung devices than others, Lowe said.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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Agam Shah

IDG News Service
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