Android for Work will be globally available in March: SAP

Google’s Android for Work program, one that will see business applications and enterprise mobility management (EMM) integrated through work profiles on modern Android phones, could see global release as early as next month, according to German multinational software vendor SAP SE.

The program, which Google first announced last year and unveiled this week, is currently in preview mode with partners already signed on under management, devices, applications, or networking categories.

Among them is SAP, which has announced it is partnering with Google on both the application as well as the management fronts through its Mobile Secure enterprise mobility management solution.

SAP Fiori on Android for Work
SAP Fiori will be available on Android for Work

“Our goal is to be there from day 1,” said Senthil Krishnapillai, head of Mobile Secure development and products at SAP.  “Whenever Google goes from a preview to release mode for all the components of Android for Work, we’re there.”

That being said, he expected general availability to be “imminent.”

According to Krishnapillai, SAP has done a lot of work in recent months to integrate Mobile Secure with Android for Work.  The enterprise mobility manager, which has existed for a couple of years, has been updated to be more in line with Google’s vision of enterprise security.

In one example, the ability for applications to be sideloaded onto a device has been taken out, replaced by the requirement that they be downloaded from the EMM through the Google Play for Work marketplace.  Krishnapillai noted that while this takes away some of the flexibility that was available before, it ensures that apps are verified and secure.

Meanwhile, IT professionals wishing to manage Android devices would now approach an EMM such as SAP to sign up their company.  Individual users would register as well, and their company credentials are then connected to the Google account on their smart phone.  On the device side, Android for Work is able to containerize enterprise apps under a user’s newly created work profile, while IT controls what applications will be accessible.

Other Android EMM partners include AirWatch, BlackBerry, Citrix, Google Apps for Work, MaaS360, MobileIron, SAP, and SOTI while app partners include Adobe, Box, Concur, SalesForce, SAP, and SuccessFactors.

Google's Android for Work partners
Google’s Android for Work partners

Apps that are available to businesses include generic enterprise apps that Google is offering on the Work marketplace, custom apps that a company can build itself and upload to a “private channel” in Google’s market for internal use, and finally with SAP, a suite of customizable apps built by the company or its partners.

According to Krishnapillai, while this may mean that some apps will be exclusive to SAP Mobile Secure customers, the company has also partnered with other EMM providers to share its portfolio.

“To me, this is the beginning of Android defragmentation,”  Krishnapillai said.  He explained that aside from enhanced security on Android 5.0 Lollipop, 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich versions will offer largely the same features.

“Every single customer we go, they always say, I want to put [my app] on iOS, and then they pause and ask, which android device should I use your product with, and that is because of all the API variations from Samsung and LG to Motorola to everybody,” he added.  “What we’ve seen with Lollipop is that it’s much, much more secure. Now with Android for Work, they’re creating this separate virtual container, where at the core kernel level, it’s completely impregnable from what we can tell.  Given the fact that these guys have over 80 per cent market share and a lot of young people with these devices are coming into the work force, this is going to have a significant effect on the BYOD market.”

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Dave Yin
Dave Yin
Digital Staff Writer at Computer Dealer News, covering Canada's IT channel.

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