Today, Google is announcing that Android enterprise, the mobile device management feature set formerly known as Android for Work, is getting a new “zero-touch enrollment” process for enterprise-owned devices.
When a company buys a device, it can be flagged so that when it turns on and is connected for the very first time, it will automatically enroll itself in MDM, as well as configure settings and provision apps. This means that you can hand new devices directly to users, and you don’t have to worry about the device ever being used in an unmanaged state. This is the the “out of box experience.”
Devices in this program will almost certainly get enrolled into what’s known as Device Owner Mode, which gives the associated MDM server extensive controls that you would want for a corporate device. Previously, enrolling in Device Owner Mode required a few more steps, like entering settings manually or scanning a QR code. (These will still be an option, of course.) You can dig into more Android enterprise details in their help page and the Android EMM Developers site.
Support for this type of enrollment process is a key feature, as it has a big potential for time savings, as well as important security implications—We learned this from the Los Angeles Unified School District when they deployed thousands of iPads back in 2013 with, well, mixed success.
Android enterprise zero-touch enrollment is similar to what Samsung provides with Knox Mobile Enrollment, as well as Apple’s Device Enrollment Program and Windows AutoPilot. Apple DEP is already quite popular, and Knox Mobile Enrollment is becoming common, too.
By adding zero-touch, Google will be joining this trend and taking another step in making it easier for OEMs to have standard EMM features. It also means that enterprises can use the same process with devices from multiple OEMs.
Not every carrier and Android device will support zero-touch enrollment, but since we’re talking enterprise-owned devices, that’s okay. Companies aren’t worried about supporting anything that comes in the door, rather, they’ll look for support in the specific devices they choose for their fleet. There’s a full list of OEM, carrier, and EMM partners at the Android enterprise site, and it looks pretty broad.
Overall, vendors across the spectrum have been making a lot of progress on enterprise-owned device management features, and Google’s announcement today will certainly open up even more new use cases.