In February 2018, Google announced some very good news for businesses and OEMs with the launch of its Android Enterprise Recommended (AER) program. At a stroke, Google established itself as a UL-type validator of OEMs, the program’s aim being to provide a Google-recommended list of devices that meet a set of enterprise-grade requirements for companies to consult. Devices submitted for AER certification are rigorously tested based on Google’s established best practices and requirements. Devices must meet the following conditions:
- Minimum hardware specifications for Android 7.0+ devices
- Support for bulk deployment of Android devices including zero-touch enrolment
- Delivery of Android security updates within 90 days of release from Google for at least 3 years (5 years for rugged devices)
- Availability of unlocked devices, direct from manufacturer or reseller
- Consistent application experience in managed profiles and on managed devices
- IP64-certified ingress protection (for rugged devices)
The open-source nature of Android is a considerable strength for consumers who value choice. However, it also means that any OEM may use the Android operating system to power their hardware, which can make the marketplace seem overwhelming to organizations who require coherence and conformability in their enterprised devices. In other words, organizations procuring devices for business reasons need to know they’re getting devices updated with the latest software and security patches.
Benefits to organizations
Google’s AER certification process happens on a by-device basis, meaning that each device released by an OEM must be tested and certified to be accepted. The AER program answers a simple question: “What devices are recommended for business use?” Thus, organizations needing to purchase devices for enterprise-wide use need only look for the AER insignia to know that the device has been thoroughly tested against Google’s best practices and requirements. As such, devices must be:
- Supported by the OEM for software and security patching for 3 years (5 for rugged devices)
- Meet the demands of enterprise use with no concern for incompatibility, slow down or other functional concerns
- Be available for purchase through multiple channels
- Perform reliably when provisioned as a fully managed or work profile device
- Support Android zero-touch enrolment
AER for EMMs
Enterprise Mobility Management (EMMs) providers play a key role in managing Android business features and services, helping customers deploy devices and apps at scale. Google’s AER program helps customers identify those EMMs who are best equipped to deploy Android. As such, Google helps customers determine which EMMs are best qualified to help them take advantage of the Android platform’s security and management characteristics. Those that qualify must standardize their Android support based on AER criteria, support at least two of the three main deployment models, keep field sales personnel updated on the latest Android Enterprise developments, and exhibit a track record of successful deployments. Android Enterprise-supported EMMs must also demonstrate:
- The ability to deliver advanced management and security features
- Express across a number of Android Enterprise management sets
- Deployment experience with consoles that make Android Enterprise set-up easier
- A commitment to remain up-to-date on the most recent Android features and training requirements
- Google-trained field sales, technical and deployment support personnel
Google’s initial AER-approved list of EMM launch partners included Google Cloud, I3 Systems, IBM, Blackberry, MobileIron, Microsoft, SoftBank, VMware and SOTI.
In February 2019, Google extended the Android Enterprise Recommended program to include managed service providers (MSP), a valuable benefit for organizations who want to find MSPs that are well-equipped to support their Android-based enterprise mobility platforms. Validated MSP partners are trained on Google’s most recent best practices for helping customers streamline and expand mobility deployments.
Through the program, Google aims to keep validated MSP partners and companies with MSP business divisions trained on the best approach to customer mobile deployments. Android Enterprise Recommended MSPs must display several capabilities, including:
- Certification in Android Enterprise Recommended enterprise mobility management
- Technical expertise showed by Google-trained personnel on deploying Android
- A commitment to staying updated on the most recent Android product features and training requirements
To date, Google’s list of certified MSPs includes Mobile Mentor, Honeywell Enterprise, Brodos, DXC Technology, Stratix, SCC, SHI, Accenture, Tech Data, and Vox Mobile, among others, as Android Enterprise Recommended partners.
The program has met with considerable success and acclaim. According to the research firm IDC, more than 80 percent of AER customers in Europe indicated their devices are more secure and enterprise-worthy than ever. With each subsequent expansion of the AER program, Google is giving its customers a higher degree of confidence in the reliability and security of their Android deployed systems.