Healthcare IT managers are very aware of the value of mobile devices to their doctors, nurses, staff, and even patients and visitors. But when concentrating on healthcare IT issues, refocusing on the mechanics of rolling out mobile devices to create more connected hospitals can seem an insurmountable obstacle. Deploying hundreds or thousands of devices is a logistical and technical nightmare; once deployed, keeping devices patched and properly configured is another heavy task.

Fortunately, there are some shortcuts, and deployment can be simplified and streamlined. Tools such as Samsung Knox Configure are designed to help speed and automate rollouts of large numbers of mobile devices, whether smartphones, tablets or even wearables.

What is Vendor-Based Cloud Configuration?

To start to understand what Knox Configure is, it’s important to understand the concept of a vendor’s cloud configuration tool. Not every vendor has one, but the big idea is that when a brand new phone starts up out of the box, it contacts the manufacturer’s master cloud service and requests a configuration. In the world of laptops and desktops, a PXE server starts the process on the corporate LAN and is used to push the Windows “Golden Master Profile” down to each device.

For smartphones, there is no LAN, so the smartphone vendor acts as a central hub, instead of the on-net PXE server that houses the company-specific configuration. The smartphone vendor’s cloud-based servers are responsible for customizing — based on specific settings — the pre-loaded Android operating system to whatever your environment requires.

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Vendor-specific tools like Knox Configure move the Windows ideas of loading and configuring operating systems to the world of smartphones and tablets. Of course, some changes are required. Smartphones don’t live on corporate LANs, so everything runs in the cloud, accessible via carrier data networks and the internet via Wi-Fi.

Another key difference is requiring hardware vendor coordination because when a phone starts up it isn’t aware of what manufacturer it belongs to. Knox Configure can also arrange devices one-at-a-time using an app loaded onto a second Android phone, which may be appropriate for smaller deployments.

What Should You Know Before Starting Knox Configure?

Tools like Knox Configure have to already know about all of the smartphones or tablets that the organization is planning to deploy, so this means that they are best suited for corporate-owned technology configurations.

A second thing to be aware of is reseller ability to preload device serial numbers into Knox Configure before they are delivered. If hospitals are working with a carrier, they may be able to do this, and certainly, all of the larger value-added resellers (VARs) can link your devices to Knox Configure as they are leaving the loading dock. This makes it easier to adjust settings and automatically apply profiles when devices are taken out of the box.

Once you’ve met those requirements, Knox Configure provides a web-based interface that lets admin easily create and deploy Android configurations onto all corporate devices. With this portal, they can generate different setups for staff depending on role and security access, brand phones, remove startup screens and batch enroll smartphones. All of these features are designed to rapidly construct purpose-built devices and reduce the time between unboxing and first use.

Staying Ahead of Updates

Knox Configure also offers the ability to keep phones up-to-date. Most healthcare IT managers will want to look at dynamic configurations for mobile technology in hospitals, because they allow for continual updates and tuning of the configuration on the smartphone or tablet.

The software helps manage update configurations, restricted store or application lists, so that a device is protected and compliant from the moment it joins the network. It also lets administrators remote wipe any lost or stolen hardware.

For additional data security, Hospital IT managers have decided to activate features such as Knox Workspace. As a hardware-assisted containerization for Android, they can apply it in the installation process, reducing the need for re-doing application installations once the Workspace barriers are in place. This can be beneficial for phones or tablets that pass in between patients, nursing staff or even home care aides, since it reduces the downtime required for a data reset.

Overall, Knox Configure offers a quick on-ramp to the first device configuration and initial installation of an MDM or EMM agent, getting the device up to the point of enrollment in minutes with full automation, and providing peace of mind for ITDMs.

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Joel Snyder

Joel Snyder, Ph.D., is a senior IT consultant with 30 years of practice. An internationally recognized expert in the areas of security, messaging and networks, Snyder is a popular speaker and author and is known for his unbiased and comprehensive tests of security and networking products. His clients include major organizations on six continents.

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