Android Enterprise Recommended (AER)
There’s no going back now: The enterprise has gone mobile, from the sales team to the manufacturing floor. Everyone in the enterprise loves mobile, except for the IT department, which is saddled with device evaluation, intake, provisioning, maintenance, support, and security for a myriad of platforms and devices.
For Android devices in particular, these tasks are daunting. Every device, it seems, has a slightly different flavor of Android and implements features in different ways. Even different devices from the same manufacturer have different quirks. Worse yet, manufacturers are maddeningly inconsistent when it comes to providing security patches and OS updates.
The enterprise has long demanded a better, more streamlined, more standard way to manage Android devices. Google has at last responded by launching Android Enterprise Recommended (AER).
What Android Enterprise Recommended Is — and Isn’t
With Android Enterprise Recommended, Google has defined a set of hardware and OS requirements that device manufacturers must meet to earn the “Android Enterprise Recommended” certification. Google will test each device as part of the certification process. Certification means that enterprises can have a strong level of confidence that a device will be free of hardware security flaws, the operating system will be updated regularly via the monthly patching regime, and the device will support Google’s zero-touch enrollment feature—a method of bulk-provisioning devices with company-standard configurations without requiring users (or IT) to set up each device manually.
In addition, with this service Google is offering advanced training and technical support to participating device manufacturers. This will give manufacturers extra help in designing and configuring compliant devices.
However, Android Enterprise Recommended is not, in and of itself, an enterprise mobility management (EMM) solution. Customers will still need to select and implement EMM of some kind. The good news is that AER certified devices will support most leading EMM solutions, giving customers maximum flexibility.
Who’s On Board?
At this writing, Google has certified several devices, from the likes of Blackberry, LG, and Huawei, as well as Google’s own Pixel range. An up to date list is available here.
Conspicuously absent from the list, however, is Samsung. One would be inclined to believe that Samsung, the top provider of Android devices in both the consumer and enterprise markets, would be among the first to support this initiative.
Unfortunately, this is not the case. Over the years Samsung has invested heavily in its own enterprise feature sets to augment the deficiencies in Android first released under the branding of Samsung Approved for Enterprise (SAFE) and recently rebranded under the KNOX program. This includes a zero-touch enrollment solution, called Knox Mobile Enrollment (KME). Even though the KNOX service is free, and therefore provides Samsung with no direct revenues, the company has stated that its devices will continue to support KNOX and not Google’s newly released zero-touch solution. Support for Google’s zero-touch is a requirement to be included in the Android Enterprise Recommended certification. With Zero touch still finding its feet and not yet available in many countries it may be a while before we see any Samsung devices certified.
This is a big miss for both Google and Samsung and as a result Samsung could see their share of the enterprise market erode without AER certification as buying decisions exclude them from evaluation. It is important to point out the Samsung is still the leader in support for Android Enterprise and the only component that is missing is Zero Touch Enrolment.
Mobility moves fast. With AER still in its infancy anything can happen. It will be interesting to see how this all unfolds in the coming months. In the meantime, you can find out more about our Mobility Management Services here.