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Device Management

Q&A: VMware, Samsung Knox Collaboration Is Critical for Enterprises

CIOs and IT managers in charge of making mobility and digital transformation both secure and effective within the enterprise have long struggled to keep up with the fast-evolving world of mobile endpoint management.

Since the early days of smartphones, IT administrators have faced innumerable frustrations as they attempted to incorporate what were originally designed as devices for personal use into the rigorous requirements of a modern enterprise. Mobile Device Management (MDM) and now Unified Endpoint Management (UEM) tools have advanced significantly and today offer extremely sophisticated management capabilities, but — such is the pace of change in the mobile world — there is always a sense of playing catch-up.

Mobile platform, hardware and software providers have been taking small bites out of the challenges faced by the enterprise, but recent collaborations between Samsung and VMware have made enormous strides at knocking down some of the biggest hurdles and threats.

Ahead of VMworld 2019, I spoke with Pierre Couteau, senior director of strategic alliances at Samsung Electronics America, along with Aditya Kunduri and Gregory Lehrer of VMware, to gain a deeper insight on how they are working together to advance security, manageability and productivity on a global scale.

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Question: Words like collaboration, partnership and ecosystem are used a lot in press releases, and sometimes don’t mean very much. How is the VMware and Samsung collaboration different from standard ecosystem compatibility?

Pierre Couteau: Maybe we should talk about this more, but the reality is we have multiple layers of integration between our companies, starting at the engineering level where a deep cooperation has existed since the launch of the Knox platform in 2013, going all the way to technical and sales support for our joint customers. We have been a Gold Sponsor at VMworld because it is a great environment for us to display the fruits of our joint efforts. These aren’t one-off press releases.

Aditya Kunduri: We consider our relationship with Samsung critical to our mutual success, so we collaborate on engineering, product development, go-to-market — even customer problem solving. There are many things we can do together that neither of us could do as well individually. We both have multiple product lines that are well integrated to create a unique value in the market and deliver on our shared goal of digital transformation for our clients. Both the technologies and the customer problems we are working together to address are a testament to how effective our partnership is.

Securing VDI Endpoints With Samsung Knox

Question: Let’s review some of that story arc, then. When Samsung Knox was first released, it was a hardware and software-focused security enhancement. Obviously Knox has expanded to include many security and control features, and now a plugin architecture and security analytics. Was this always the vision for Knox?

Couteau: Knox has evolved over time, responding to feedback from enterprise customers and partners. Our focus has always been on giving our customers a choice, whether that means levels of security on our devices or administrative options for configuration methods. We continue to expand the Knox domain to respond to the requests of our customers and to the changing security threats and context of work. So now we have the Knox Platform for Enterprise (KPE) that extends Android to include additional security architectures and management controls, the Knox Service Plug-in (KSP) that allows UEM systems to support updates to Knox and Samsung devices without coding, and Knox Analytics, providing insights from machine learning and predictive analytics based on data drawn from across our experiences and devices as well as the tools to apply contextual response to our customers’ environments or individual devices. KSP is a great example of us working closely with UEM partners like VMware to bring something really valuable specifically to the enterprise customer.

Kunduri: We recognized long ago that Android offers a strong basis for adapting to the needs of a diverse market, and always appreciated Samsung’s commitment to defining a way of adapting Android to the needs of the enterprise, giving them more choices. From the original implementation of Knox that focused on protecting the hardware and the operating system at the lowest levels, by supporting Samsung’s efforts we have witnessed expedited adoption and versatility in mobile use cases, particularly in industries and circumstances that require heightened security. All the Knox technologies, quite simply, enable unique use cases and offer more choices.

Couteau: No part of this ecosystem exists in isolation. Samsung innovations that were widely needed became part of Android for Enterprise, and we continue to innovate Knox to allow more specific use cases, more rigorous security standards. We all want Android to be more widely embraced in the enterprise and recognized for its superior adaptability to specific enterprise needs. Ultimately we all win by making things work better for our customers.

Question: The Knox Service Plugin architecture must have taken quite a bit of collaboration to pull off. This is a major change to how device APIs are supported. Has this changed the way you work together?

Couteau: The process that our partners, like VMware, and enterprise administrators would have to go through every time we released an update to Knox or our device APIs has been a major burden. The fact is, we will continue our pace of innovation, releasing new devices, Knox features and controls multiple times every year. Now we have a way for VMware and other UEM partners to support those changes on day zero and for administrators to begin their change process on their own schedule. The Plugin and enterprise firmware over-the-air (E-FOTA) are a direct response to what we felt was a burdensome process for everyone, but it required Samsung and VMware to work closely.

Gregory Lehrer: While we appreciate Samsung’s pace of innovation, this new approach is a significant improvement for our customers and for us. Giving customers direct access to the new features and controls the same day they are released — and control of OS updates — with the E-FOTA services gives enterprise administrators the tools they need to run a mobile environment that is optimized for efficiency and effectiveness. Many use cases have been hard to manage or are simply stuck in planning stages, awaiting this level of control and oversight. It makes the environment easier for users and IT, and from our perspective, is what was needed for the next tier of adoption.

How VMware Workspace ONE and Samsung DeX Power a Seamless Work Environment

Question: From the VMware perspective, how does this collaboration help you deliver on your promise to the market of any application on any device, anywhere?

Kunduri: We share a vision for workforce computing that makes the endpoint technical requirements something users never have to consider. Whether you’re talking about knowledge workers that need to access highly sensitive information, or line workers needing fluid access to line of business apps on any number of devices throughout their day, ensuring the experience is delivered with the highest level of security and the best user experience requires many layers of technology to work well together. We are very excited that Samsung is showcasing at VMworld the way that Workspace ONE and Samsung DeX can work together in delivering an extraordinarily fluid work experience.

Couteau: We see so much value for our customers combining DeX, our desktop experience solution, with Workspace ONE, really allowing a seamless work environment you can take anywhere that allows for a desktop computing experience when available, or a mobile experience as appropriate, and the user doesn’t have to change behavior or change approach to their work. For the administrator, the ability to deliver both a mobile experience and a virtual desktop experience (VDI) with equally high levels of security and management is really a great benefit for everyone.

Lehrer: The combination of Workspace ONE and DeX is transformative on so many levels. We have worked together on customer solutions where we replaced ruggedized laptops with Galaxy devices, making it possible to have more devices in the field with access to all the applications that a first line worker might need, and when a large screen is available, that same user has a rich desktop experience. The cost of ownership goes down while security is both enhanced and invisible to the user. The DeX and Workspace ONE combination is an excellent realization of the future of enterprise computing.

A Partnership Designed to Enable Today’s Mobile Workforce

Question: You have both talked about how your partnership has enabled you to work together to solve unique customer problems. Is that ultimately the test of the effectiveness of your collaboration?

Couteau: Ultimately, customer needs are the reason for our partnership. The notions of choice and adaptability are shared in our approach to solving client problems. With Samsung and VMware together, we can engineer the kind of robust enterprise features into the products at every level. When you layer KPE and Workspace ONE on a Samsung device, it doesn’t feel at all like you are trying to fit a consumer device into an enterprise situation.

Kunduri: We both understand that, in the end, this is about employee experience and productivity. Workforce dynamics are changing and workers will increasingly find reasons to use multiple devices on any given day. If we can satisfy the needs of a highly mobile workforce while maintaining privacy and security, then we have really accomplished something that customers are happy to buy. One such example is our unique collaboration, where a knowledge worker on-the-go with access to just their mobile device can still use virtual apps and desktop capabilities of Horizon (part of VMware Workspace ONE) and Samsung DeX to get a fully native Windows desktop experience using their phone. And all this while Workspace ONE intrinsic security features and Samsung Knox maintain security across the entire interaction. That is a use case that exists in almost every company and public agency, and will benefit from the holistic experience that can only be achieved when you have the many integration points we have developed between us.

Couteau: That notion of a unified management experience across all devices really appeals to our customers. They can use Workspace ONE to enroll, provision and manage Samsung Android devices with Knox and Samsung Windows 10 devices, and their users will have a seamless experience no matter which device they are on.

Lehrer: We have many recent examples of this playing out. We recently had a customer replace a laptop environment with Samsung Knox-enabled smartphones with Workspace ONE. We were able to deliver all their applications to 6,000 fully configured and secured devices in less than a week. We could have only delivered that solution utilizing the best of both of our solution stacks and only if they work together in a uniquely collaborative way. Together we are delivering extraordinary value to our joint customers!

Couteau: And these solutions are successful on so many levels. Unprecedented simplicity and flexibility in management and deployment, unrivaled security certified to comply with all the most stringent military and government requirements, and to the user, a great experience that is about getting things done instead of about dealing with technology.

We will be demonstrating collaborations like this, and this combination of technologies will be the basis of what we will show at VMworld.

Don’t miss the Samsung booth (#759) and breakout session at VMworld 2019 in San Francisco on Tuesday, August 27 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Is your enterprise up to speed on its mobile security needs? Take this assessment to see if you’re headed down the right path.

Jim Haviland

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Jim Haviland

Jim Haviland is a partner in Impact Architects, where he helps entrepreneurs develop their businesses and connect with more customers. Educated as an electrical engineer, he has enjoyed successful endeavors in satellite instrumentation, media production, e-commerce, business consulting and enterprise technology.

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