Yesterday, Samsung announced the Galaxy Note 8 Enterprise Edition, a PC-Class version of the consumer device better suited to a corporate environment.
What does it mean?
Many organisations today have a hardware lifecycle they like to follow. It may be 3 years, 5 years or another number that normally ties in with support contracts, budgets, reliability, or other factors.
However long they may be, they’re almost guaranteed to be at odds with consumer-grade hardware – specifically in the Android ecosystem – that’s been encroaching upon enterprises over the last several years; with the annual refreshes, a maximum of 18 months of software support and security updates, and a growing difficulty as time goes by to be able to replace a broken device with the same model as OEMs and carriers choose to stop making or stocking them, managing these devices can be a bit of a headache.
Samsung, then, are looking to fix that in two ways:
- Allow the devices to be purchased for a longer period
- Support the software on the devices for up to three years, and keep them patched monthly with security updates to prevent lingering vulnerabilities
These add up to a longer lifecycle for the device, making them easier to replace for a longer time and guarantee they won’t fall out of date and become susceptible to vulnerabilities anywhere near as quickly as competing devices still running on a consumer lifecycle, thus more PC-Class, even though the device is physically no different to the consumer model.
Why does it matter?
Well, when considering organisations suffer from a few reoccurring issues:
- Devices can no longer be sourced, and so a mish-mash of devices need to be supported as existing ones break or otherwise fall out of support. After a few iterations of this you might imagine organisations ending up with a plethora of devices they have to keep running.
- Devices are long past EOL and still in use as there’s no budget to change them. Vulnerabilities like the recent KRACK will never be patched.
The thought of an enterprise-ready device with guaranteed software support and attainability far longer than what we most have today will offer better security, less overhead (support, documentation, etc), make purchases easier to forecast and generally offer more peace-of-mind for those who care for and maintain the lifecycle processes, ensuring the Note 8 can be more comfortably integrated into them.
As this is an enterprise-targeted device, Samsung also make a point of talking about their configuration and management tools for quick, simple device deployments and business-as-usual activities – The Samsung Enterprise Firmware Over the Air (E-FOTA) will “help reduce downtime and simplify the complexity of enterprise-wide smartphone deployments” and enable “IT admins to comprehensively manage a fleet of devices through centralized OS and software version control and scheduled updates.”.
It’ll also support Knox Configure for secure, branded “mobile experiences” and of course the Note 8 Enterprise Edition is compatible with all of the other Samsung enterprise mobility solutions to boot.
The disadvantages – you’ll be expected to pay a bit more per device for the Enterprise Edition, and they can’t just be picked up from a local phone shop; rather only via authorised resellers. It also appears to be a US announcement, though I suspect wider availability will come in time (and hopefully under the same terms as noted here).
The struggle of integrating consumer devices into a corporate environment is one that has been ongoing for many, many years; I’m surprised it’s taken Samsung (or any other popular OEM) this long to come up with a – perhaps not compromise, but certainly an attempt to lessen the impact on organisations trying to incorporate consumer devices into their estate.
The approach to security updates in particular is excellent; hopefully by setting the trend here for the market we’ll start seeing other OEMs follow suit, a scenario in which everyone benefits and will most definitely aid to change the (incorrect) perception that Android security isn’t up to the standards of other OS’ on the market.
It’ll be interesting to see if and how the Note 8 Enterprise Edition succeeds in the enterprise arena.