Mobile World Congress is starting today in Barcelona, and already there have been major enterprise mobility management announcements from Samsung, Airwatch, and Red Bend. Let’s look at each one of these:
(UPDATE 2/25/13 10:00AM PST: More announcements have been pouring in, and we've added them below.)
Samsung announced an enhancement to its SAFE mobile devices called KNOX. KNOX will provide “application containers” and app-level VPNs to separate personal and corporate data. Other features of KNOX include support for ARM TrustZone, secure boot, and various Department of Defence and government certifications.
SAFE is the set of MDM controls that Samsung includes on top of the core Android MDM APIs, which are actually pretty basic. The important thing to remember is that generally to use the SAFE features, you have to have a 3rd party vendor make an MDM app that can interact with Samsung’s APIs. So keep your ears to the ground for more announcements around that.
The exciting thing about this announcement is the prospect of app-level controls that are built into the OS, instead of integrated into 3rd party apps via app-wrapping or SDKs. This could make much integration much easier, and assuage fears about where mobile app management-compatible apps will come from. This is truly an exciting announcement; check back later this week for a deeper dive into Samsung SAFE.
General Dynamics (which through its Open Kernel Labs acquisition has been working on mobile virtualization) announced that they're involved with KNOX as a partner, but it's not exactly clear yet how everything works.
Airwatch announced that it received $200 million of round A funding; according to the release it will “fund strategic acquisitions, accelerate global growth and drive innovation and adoption of AirWatch's content collaboration solution.” They’re already one of the largest and most prominent companies in the industry, and up to this point they’ve been self-funded. They support the widest range of platforms and versions of Android out of all the MDM vendors, and recently they introduced a full range of mobile app management features.
Overall, this huge funding is one more sign of how big enterprise mobility management is becoming.
Red Bend announced that its dual-persona mobile virtualization solution will be going into a beta release. You can read more about Red Bend from our article in January, but essentially Red Bend’s product is a type-1 Android hypervisor with a personal VM and a work VM. Naturally this involves customizations to the OS, and Red Bend’s partner OEM for the release is Samsung. But given Samsung’s investment in SAFE and the announcement about KNOX secure containers, I’m wondering how likely it is that completely separate work and personal Android VMs will become common.
UPDATE: Cellrox has announced that they'll be partnering with Fixmo and use their SafeZone product to support iOS devices. Cellrox creates multi-persona virtualized Android devices; while Fixmo provides mobile app management solutions for iOS (as well as Android).