Back in January 2013, Samsung released a report it commissioned that specifically notes that enterprise BYOD is now at the tipping point. By and large, the point of the report was to allow Samsung to underscore the need for securing enterprise mobile devices - and of course more specifically, the need to secure Samsung devices.
Through that report Samsung was able to highlight its own SAFE (Samsung for Enterprise) security platform.
Today, at the 2013 Mobile World Congress (MWC) being held in Barcelona, Spain, Samsung has taken a further step on SAFE and has now announced KNOX, a new security platform component that will specifically deliver the ability to separate personal and corporate data on any KNOX-supported Samsung Android device.
Samsung notes that KNOX incorporates Security Enhanced (SE) Android, which was developed by the NSA (National Security Agency).
KNOX looks to integrate and implement management services at both the hardware and Android operating system/application level. At the application layer, KNOX will deliver a container solution that separates business and personal use of a mobile device. This data separation is specifically enforced by SE Android and file system level encryption.
The chief goal for KNOX is to protect corporate data and applications from data leakage, as well as from viruses and other malware.
Samsung claims KNOX is lightweight and compatible with existing common enterprise infrastructure such as MDM, VPN and directory services. Clearly this is the case as today both AirWatch and MobileIron - key MDM and MAM players - announced their immediate support for KNOX.
The KNOX "container" is accessible through an icon that sits on the home screen. In turn, it provides users with secure access to various enterprise applications that include e-mail, browsers, contacts, calendars, file sharing, collaboration, CRM and business intelligence applications. That is a lot to promise, and it sounds almost entirely like BlackBerry Fusion, BlackBerry Balance and BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10, so we can surmise that Samsung is looking to pre-empt any need for enterprises to move to BlackBerry's new platform (and BlackBerry's new devices).
To be sure, it also sounds a great deal like the descriptions now being used to describe various mobile application management (MAM) platforms from the likes of MobileIron and AirWatch - the key difference is that KNOX will specifically protect Samsung's own enterprise-grade Galaxy devices. Samsung claims that KNOX:
- Enables existing Android eco-system applications to automatically gain enterprise integration and validated robust security with zero change to the application source code.
- Relieves application developers from the burden of developing individual mobile application enterprise features.
- Delivers FIPS compliant VPN, on-device encryption, Enterprise Single Sign On (SSO), Active Directory support and Smart Card based multi-factor authentication.
KNOX is a Samsung enterprise solution and fits into the already existing Samsung For Enterprise (SAFE) program, which is best described as an ongoing effort initiated by the company to promote the readiness of its devices for enterprise use. Samsung notes that KNOX will become commercially available in Q2 2013 and will be available on various enterprise-grade Galaxy devices. We anticipate the new Galaxy 8.0 tablet will be among the supported devices, but it isn't clear if the company's older Tab tablets will be part of the mix.
Samsung certainly is getting its name associated throughout Mobile World Congress on enterprise initiatives so far, and the show is only a day old. Stay tuned for other Samsung developments (for example, Visa and Samsung have just announced a mobile payments agreement). One thing we will note is that Samsung has made it clear that we won't see the Galaxy S4 at MWC. It has officially noted (or depending on your point of view, has unofficially tweeted) that the Galaxy S4 will be officially unveiled on March 14, 2013 in New York City.
Stay tuned for more Samsung sightings as they emerge.
Edited by Braden Becker