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June 26, 2014

Samsung Knox enterprise security comes forth

Analysis: But can it really wrestle CIOs from Apple?

By Ben Sullivan

Samsung reiterated its push into the enterprise space alongside an announcement that its Knox security platform will be integrated into the next version of Android, Android L.

Samsung Knox is the security and containerisation platform for Samsung devices, which is spearheading the Korean firm’s assault of the enterprise space. With Knox, businesses can have full control of their workers’ phone through containerisation – separating work from play on smartphones.

"Work-life blend is overtaking work-life balance amongst European office workers," said Samsung.

"The extent to which workers will go to achieve this raises security issues for European businesses to address."

A recent report into the European workforce found that three quarters of workers in Europe are work-life blending by doing personal tasks in work time and work tasks in their personal time. This, as it always has, is causing headaches for IT departments and CIOs as the security of BYOD devices comes to the forefront.

Rob Orr, VP for enterprise business at Samsung Europe, said: "Our study suggests that many workers are simplifying their busy lives as much as possible, using mobile devices and tech skills to complete work and personal tasks quickly and conveniently when, where and how they want.

"And instead of this creating a distraction or information overload, they have the ability to work-life blend to the advantage of themselves and their employers. The flip side of this positive behavior, however, is the potential risks raised by eager employees."

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Samsung’s Knox security, based on Android, was released in 2013 and aims to help implement the firm’s target of hitting a $100bn enterprise revenue by 2020. To put that into context, that is 25% of its projected total revenue.

Last week, Graham Long, Samsung UK business division VP, said that enterprises in the UK and around the world are gradually getting more interested in what Samsung has to offer the B2B market.

Long said: "Enterprise for Samsung is increasingly important and increasingly relevant. What we are seeing from the [B2B] market is a shift towards consumerisation. We’re seeing people wanting to utilise their own devices in the workplace, and we’re also seeing in many different areas, people are looking to tie different forms of technology together.

"Historically, from a B2B perspective, Samsung has been very strong in the display market. We also have a successful printing business. But what we’re seeing from our customers is that they want us to show them how to link all their different technologies together."

Knox gives a device a separate ‘container’, a secure section of the phone where IT admin can control permissions, access, and remote wipe data and information through the Enterprise Mobility Management console. Users also have access to this, allowing personnel themselves to track a missing device, wipe a device, and many other admin functions.

It was last night, at the Google I/O keynote, when Samsung and Google further announced plans to integrate Knox into the next version of Android, which will not make the platform exclusively for Samsung devices.

Injong Rhee, SVP of Knox Business Group, said: "I am very pleased and welcome this groundbreaking partnership with Google. As a driving force behind Android-powered mobile devices, Samsung is in a unique position to meet the rapidly evolving mobile security and privacy needs of Android users.

"We are delighted with the opportunity to work with Google to help build Android’s enterprise eco-system and establish Android devices as the leading choice for businesses. This represents an amazing transformation in workforce mobility."

Knox has been approved, and even part-designed, by the US government and Department of Defense. The UK government also recently published security guidance for Samsung Knox. According to Graham Long, UK banks are currently flocking Android to use the KNOX platform for their employees.

The Pentagon approved a number of Samsung devices this year for official use. The move was another blow to BlackBerry whose once-specialty is now suffering from strong BYOD competition from KNOX and Apple.

However, KNOX has still yet to make a dent in Apple’s enterprise dominance.

In Q1 2014, enterprise mobile security vendor Good Technology said that firms are continuing to choose Apple’s mobile offerings over Android devices, and iPhones still have more dominant share in the enterprise.

iPhones accounted for 51% of activated business smartphones and iPads accounted for 92% of tablets out of Good Technology’s 5,000 customers. This have Apple a 72% share of all mobile devices.

It was Android that was in the shadow of this dominance, with only a 26% share of smartphones and 8% share of tablets.

Samsung did admit this today. A representative said: "There’s an Android enterprise market share of 20%, compared to the 70% in the consumer market."

But the company said: "Consumers are getting smarter, and there’s a lot more information available to them. We provide a lot of SDKs to develop applications for out technology. It’s about consumer making smart decisions."

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