Apple stole the show this week, unveiling its new, larger iPhones and a smart watch that everyone is just calling iWatch, whether that’s the product’s name or not.
But the rush of new products from Cupertino doesn’t change the fact that, behind the scenes, the battle for the hearts and minds of business users (aka “enterprises”) rages on between Apple, Google, Microsoft and Blackberry. iPhone 6 or no, the outcome of that battle is anything but clear.
Case in point: Samsung will roll out new features this week for its KNOX-powered Android phones and tablets that are designed to appeal to security and privacy conscious business users.
The new KNOX solution offerings, which will become public on Thursday, promise enterprises and government organizations the tools to simplify the implementation of BYOD (or Bring Your Own Device) programs. In addition, the company will offer both free and premium services for mobile device security and management to small and mid-sized businesses as well as individuals, according to a source who had been briefed on the changes.
KNOX is a platform developed by Samsung that comprises a range of enhanced client security features for Android-based Samsung phones and cloud-based mobile management services. On the client side, the features include Workspace, which comprises Trusted Boot, SE for application and data isolation, kernel protection and a secure, cryptographic keystore that utilizes the TrustZone technology.
For the latest updates to KNOX, Samsung partnered with Centrify Corp., which makes identity management and single sign-on technology. The two companies have expanded an OEM partnership, with Centrify providing both single-sign on and mobile device management (MDM) capabilities for Samsung KNOX devices.
In a conversation with The Security Ledger, Centrify’s Senior VP of Business Development, Shreyas Sadalg, said his company’s technology provides the cloud-based identity and access management (IAM) platform and the client-side mobile device management capabilities for KNOX EMM.
Going forward, Centrify’s “UMC” – or universal MDM client – software will be embedded on Samsung Galaxy S5 phones, easing deployment within organizations. But KNOX EMM will also allow companies to manage non-Samsung and non-Android devices like phones and tables running Apple’s iOS.
The two companies have been working together for 18 months, with Samsung embedding Centrify’s Active Directory-based mobile security and cloud identity technology on millions of Samsung Android devices. The company’s mobile authentication and AD-based policy management of virtual containers provides 1-click sign-on for enterprise mobile apps, as well as management of secure containers that can isolate personal and work data and apps.
That integration now includes mobile device management capabilities, Sadalg said. Organizations will be able to integrate existing Active Directory identities or use cloud-based identities from enterprise cloud directories, such as Samsung EMM Cloud Directory or Microsoft’s Windows Azure Active Directory to enable federated identity to thousands of SaaS applications.
[To read more Security Ledger coverage of mobile security, click here.]
The technology should make it easier for enterprises to get their employees using cloud-based services like Salesforce.com, Box, and Microsoft Office 365 from mobile devices in a way that is seamless and mostly automated. Currently, provisioning users to those services centrally can be a mostly manual and time-consuming task.
“This really broadens the scope beyond (single sign-on),” he said. “It goes into mobile device management and global application management. You can provision users to cloud apps like Box, but also use two factor authentication and strong authentication. In a sense: it’s the entire identity lifecycle of how apps get deployed, used and provisioned.”
In addition, Sadalg of Centrify said the technology can scale to support hundreds of thousands of devices – a key requirement for use in large, global enterprises.
“Businesses of all sizes are looking to address enterprise mobility challenges around securing their users’ mobile devices and easy one-click access to cloud applications from these mobile devices,” said Injong Rhee, Senior Vice President of KNOX Business, IT & Mobile Communications Division at Samsung Electronics in a published statement.
The news follows the announcement of a partnership between Apple and IBM in July. That deal will see IBM providing mobile device management, security, data analytics and cross-platform integrations for Apple’s iPad and iPhone in the enterprise.