Security Platforms/Tools

Samsung Finds Some Safety in the Enterprise

Samsung Corp. may be the dominant mobile device maker in the consumer market today, but it has struggled to gain a foothold in the enterprise where it has been saddled by its dependence on Android.

That's starting to change as the South Korean electronics giant says it has found a way around Android fragmentation and built a platform that will be secure enough for even the most sensitive organization -- the government.

Addressing the Genband Inc. conference audience on Tuesday, Tim Wagner, Samsung's VP and GM of enterprise sales, trumpeted the company's success in the enterprise with its Samsung Approved For Enterprise (SAFE) platform that supports the required IT policies, connects to Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync, allows for device encryption, VPN connectivity and mobile device management.

It wasn't easy to win over IT departments, however. Wagner admitted that Samsung had a number of hurdles to overcome -- some factual and some perception-based. The biggest two were the ongoing belief that Android devices aren't secure, and the fragmentation problem. Every device "looks like a fingerprint," he said, meaning each one has its own set of characteristics -- connected to a different carrier, sporting a different form factor and incorporating different tweaks.

"SAFE systematically defragments Android by providing a consistent level of compliance across multiple versions of the operating system," Wagner said.

Here are some of the gains that Wagner claimed for Samsung and its carrier partners as a result of SAFE deployment:
  • The 7-inch Verizon Wireless Galaxy Tab 2 received class 3 FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approval to be used in the operating room to remotely configure an implantable device and to be used by patients to monitor their implantable devices.
  • 1,500 AT&T Inc. Galaxy Tabs are now in use by pilots on a cargo airline as electronic flight bags for real-time communications, GPS, access to their schedules, mapping, charting and PDF manual reading.
  • Dish Network Corp. is equipping its field installation workers with 5,000 Galaxy Notes and 800 Galaxy S3s to improve queue management and shorten installation windows, upsell customers and obtain their signatures in real time.
  • Samsung's largest Android implementation to date is with Hewlett-Packard Co. for 65,000 Galaxy S2 devices.

Where Samsung has yet to break through is in the government and financial services, where the bar for security is set extremely high. To reach these highly-regulated verticals, Wagner said Samsung plans to introduce "Knox" at a later date, after delaying it from the Galaxy S IV launch. Knox is a suite of security measures that protects the device at the app, OS and device layer. Unlike SAFE, which just makes devices "enterprise-ready," Knox offers a level of protection matched only by BlackBerry currently.

"Our number one goal is to figure out how to get into the government, then the other regulated industries will fall like dominos," Wagner said.

Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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