Samsung Makes Android SAFE for IT
Jun 19, 2012 5:00 AM PT
Samsung's forthcoming Galaxy S III smartphone will be the company's first device to be officially branded and sold under its new SAFE program.
SAFE stands for "Samsung Approved for Enterprise."
The Galaxy S III will be available in the U.S. from Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and U.S. Cellular in July.
Samsung also introduced Safe2Switch, a program that lets smartphone users of other makers' products trade in their existing devices and purchase a new Samsung smartphone. People who currently own a Samsung smartphone can trade up.
Samsung first introduced the SAFE program in the United States in late 2011, and there are more than 20 Samsung SAFE devices on the market, company spokesperson Martha Thomas told LinuxInsider. However, the Galaxy S III will be the first one to bear the program's brand. Introducing devices under the SAFE brand will make it easier for customers to see which products are enterprise-ready.
"With SAFE, Samsung is sending a message to IT departments -- this phone is easy for you guys to sign off on," James Robinson, lead Android developer and cofounder of OpenSignalMaps, told LinuxInsider. "The S III is going to be an extremely popular device."
Playing IT Safe
SAFE was created as a way to defragment the Android operating system (OS) across multiple versions offered on handsets by carriers in the United States, Samsung said. Out of the box, the SAFE-branded Galaxy S III supports a suite of enterprise-ready features and capabilities as well as 338 IT policies. These policies include on-device AES 256-bit encryption, enhanced support for Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync, and support for virtual private network (VPN) and mobile device management (MDM) solutions.
Galaxy S III features include AllShare Play, which lets users securely share PowerPoint presentations and PDFs with other S III owners; Share Shot, which enables photo compiling and sharing; S Beam One Touch Sharing, which lets Galaxy S III owners exchange information or documents by tapping these devices together; and Samsung TecTiles -- programmable tags and mobile applications.
Partnering With Samsung
Samsung is working with mobile device management (MDM) providers, including AirWatch, Sybase and Juniper Networks, to provide management and security on the Galaxy S III. It's also working with VPN providers, including Cisco and F5 Networks, to enable IP-based encryption. Samsung's security vendor partners include Symantec.
One partner, Avaya, "has been enabling Samsung's Android-based devices with our Avaya one-X Mobile client application," Avaya spokesperson Deb Kline told LinuxInsider. This "securely connects an end user's Samsung mobile device to his or her corporate communications system." Voice streams are encrypted and businesses can continue to apply their typical security measures such as firewalls and session border control.
Samsung "has put in place a formal quality assurance testing and verification process to ensure the SAFE enterprise solutions work as needed and described," the company's Thomas said. "The QA process will be in place for all future Samsung SAFE devices."
Taming the Android Defrag Bomb?
Samsung's claim of defragmenting Android with SAFE may make some users' ears perk up -- either with anticipation or skepticism. OpenSignalMaps recently found there are close to 4,000 different types of devices running the OS.
"SAFE defragments Android by creating a single standard for IT administrators to test against," Samsung's Thomas explained. "This means the IT administers can test one SAFE device such as the Galaxy S III and know that all SAFE phones -- from those running on Gingerbread to Ice Cream Sandwich -- will work the same on their network. It also allows VPN, MDM and application providers to leverage a single uniform software developer kit when creating solutions for SAFE devices."
However, "Fragmentation in terms of security capabilities is what Samsung's focusing on here, for that small sub-genre of fragmentation support for IT policies is what is needed," OpenSignalMaps' Robinson pointed out. "By introducing a new feature to its phones, Samsung is not providing a general cure to fragmentation. It's not even providing a cure across all devices. But it is promising that ... it's going to be easier for IT departments to sign off on particular applications, particularly MDM and VPN apps, running on particular models."