The future of Android in BYOD


A recent IDC analyst report states that Android smartphone market share passed 80 percent worldwide. Despite this impressive market share, the fractured nature of the Android operating system still creates concerns for IT departments with a requirement to support Android as part of a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program. In some circles, supporting Android for BYOD has given rise to the term “Bring Your Own Android.”

However, during this past year signs have begun appearing that Android’s BYOD karma is about to change.

Security through virtualization

Let’s get the bad news out of the way first: the status of Samsung Knox as a security solution for Android devices continues to disappoint. A recent post by Galen Gruman on the Infoworld Mobilize blog entitled “The truth about Samsung Knox for Android security” says it best: “The higher-level security technology for select Android devices isn’t really available yet, despite the hype.”

While this post was written prior to Google’s enterprise announcements, I still think that Google has lots of work to do around security including where Samsung Knox fits into the mix.

My prediction is that the hype around Samsung Knox will dissipate as enterprises with growing Android BYOD requirements look to their current virtualization providers for real enterprise-grade solutions. Case in point, VMware Inc. (NYSE: VMW) now offers a mobile hypervisor for Android devices as part of their VMware Horizon product line. Opportunities for startup security providers like Nubo Software multiply as the hype of Samsung Knox gives way to the realities of IT departments facing a growing number of users who wants to access corporate email from their Android devices.

More MDM options

Mobile Device Management (MDM) vendors are seizing on the growth of Android within the enterprise. Android support is gaining among the major MDM players and a definite requirement for Android’s future for BYOD.

Android goes consumer

Mark my words; the Kindle HDX is going to play a part in helping Android gain acceptance for BYOD. It’s a true convergence of e-reader and tablet that will open Android (and Android apps) to a new more novice user base. These users are going to want to get their corporate email on their Kindle HDX when they get back to the office after Christmas.

Android and the cloud

The predictions I made in How BYOD Will Change IT also apply to the future of Android and BYOD. When BYOD Android devices aren’t touching the enterprise directly that can remove some of the doubts around security.

Another interesting cloud development is that now organizations using Google Apps for Business got limited Android device management features as of an upgrade last June. However, I’m not an advocate of mixing my device management and office productivity apps. Using these features seems to be more ideal for small to midsized businesses or to support a pilot program inside a larger organization at least making Google for Work a useful entry point for Android BYOD devices into a business.

Final thoughts

While Android may never shake its reputation for operating system fragmentation, its BYOD karma is changing as more established, and startup technology vendors step up with solutions to fill in the real and perceived security gaps that Android poses for BYOD.

Image by freeimages.com user: Cieleke

This post was originally published on The Mobility Hub on November 14, 2013.

Will Kelly is a technical writer and analyst based in the Washington, DC area. His writing experience also includes writing technology articles for CNET TechRepublic and other sites. Will’s technology interests include collaboration platforms, enterprise mobility, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), project management applications, and big data.

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