Mobile Device Containerization may be the future of mobile security, surpassing MDM and MAM in overall ability and importance, but the solution landscape for mobile device containers has seen somewhat limited adoption with container vendors unable to cooperate deeply with the underlying mobile device platform.
The Holy Marriage of Containerization and the Mobile Platform
At MWC last week, the mobile developer & consumer community welcomed Samsung KNOX as an answer to their long standing desire – for one vendor to step up and deliver it all – the mobile device hardware, platform OS and the container “hypervisor”. This approach not only unburdens complexity from an app development & support perspective, but also more importantly propels 3rd party developers/vendors to deliver new features through native integrations into a single platform. The buzz surrounding the Samsung KNOX booth and related events echoed this sentiment of a “thumbs up” on the showcase of innovative partner security and productivity features only made possible with a common container/mobile OS platform.
From a mobile security architecture, this powerful combination of the containerization layer plus mobile platform means that trust can be established and shared all the way from the hardware layer (like TrustZone-based Integrity Measurement Architecture) to the application layer (Secure Container for Apps). For example, features that span multiple applications inside a container requiring true enterprise grade security like secure storage of platform certificates are only made possible with trusted cooperation between the container and mobile OS platform. Some features that got numerous attendee & news kudos were Fixmo’s Sentinel Integrity Services for detecting unverified or potentially malicious third-party container apps and Centrify’s Mobile Authentication Service for multi-app Zero-Sign-On to native container apps.
Another benefit is for Android app developers — Samsung KNOX enables existing Android eco-system applications to automatically gain enterprise integration and validated, robust security by relieving application developers from the burden of developing individual enterprise features such as FIPS compliant VPN, on-device encryption, Enterprise Single Sign On (SSO) and more. Developers can now rely on a single reference architecture (Enterprise SAFE SDK) to enhance their apps with containerization, security and productivity features.
Dual-SIM phones back in vogue
So thanks to the arrival of containerization and dual persona smartphones, how about separating the work & play persona completely with a SIM card for each? Dual-SIM phones have been around for years, but the big wireless handset OEMs have yet to put a lot of bets behind them. Fortunately MWC 2013 didn’t disappoint in this area — there was a mini rush of dual-SIM handsets that was very refreshing. At the bottom end, the basic Nokia 301 has a signature Nokia candy bar design that may remind you of 2002; Acer’s Liquid Z2 and the Alcatel One Touch Star went midrange; Samsung showed off a complete Android smartphone with the Samsung Galaxy Grand (it’s a step up from Samsung’s existing dual-SIM models). I’m glad to watch this space and look forward to how device OEMs can find a way to marry the dual persona experience with dual SIM phones.
New Android challengers emerge whilst SE Android surges ahead
Ubuntu Touch, Firefox OS, and Tizen were unveiled at MWC as Android challengers, which was good for consumers and mobile network operators with more choice in the market. Canonical’s open-source Ubuntu software, beloved by geeks around the world, was made available to phones and tablets in the shape of Ubuntu Touch. While there aren’t any carriers or manufacturers behind Ubuntu Touch, it got a lot of attention and kudos. Not to mention, CNET editors voted Ubuntu Touch the best product of Mobile World Congress 2013 – by a landslide. Though it maybe healthy for the market to see new Android challengers, these OSs may also turn out to be fads that fade away pretty soon with no uptake from device OEMs or network operators.
On the other hand, SE Android took a leap forward at MWC this year with a huge endorsement through news of its adoption by Samsung for the KNOX platform. KNOX builds on SE Android as a foundation platform to enable a device’s use in government and other highly regulated enterprise environments – a big win for Android.
Move over MDM & MAM, enter M2M & IoT
With mobility a top priority for enterprises, in the core of “enterprise mobile management” solutions, it is Mobile Device Management (MDM), a segment that we have seen for about 15 years, ever since mobile phones gained widespread adoption. With the explosion of apps, another layer that emerged above it was Mobile Application Management (MAM). The next layer is secure content management and the final uber layer being the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT). At MWC 2013, several “MDM” companies like SAP (Afaria) and Airwatch announced & aggressively showcased renewed messaging on products that serve beyond the MDM/MAM market to focus on MCM = Mobile Content Management (ie securing the content on mobile devices). The market for MDM/MAM solutions has definitely been democratized with most enterprises expecting such features as a commodity or at no charge “out of the box”.
But, with bring-your-own-device (BYOD) already implemented in most workplaces, a new buzzword making the rounds last week at the MWC was machine-to-machine (M2M). M2M refers to technologies that allow both wireless and wired systems to communicate with other devices with the same capability. The M2M phenomenon is part of the larger drive to create an Internet of Things (IoT), a global network that not only links computers, tablets and phones, but also connects everything from bikes to vending machines to thermostats. Ericsson and SAP announced a M2M solution at MWC to jointly market and sell cloud-based, M2M solutions and services to enterprises via operators around the globe. This makes it possible for businesses to effectively connect their enterprise assets across multi-country operations with full integration to existing business processes, along with support for mobile and real-time scenarios.
The real business opportunity in M2M is exploring both enterprise and consumer solutions for the ~ 12.5 billion smart-connected devices, excluding phones, PCs and tablets in the world in 2020, up from 1.3 billion today. With the establishment of the M2M Multi-Operator Alliance, over the next 18 months expect to see vendors flesh out consumer and enterprise use cases for combining the power of big data, M2M as well as market trends and opportunities.
Samsung takes a bite out of Apple and Blackberry
Given most major smartphone operating systems were only recently updated (iOS 6, Android 4.2, BlackBerry 10 and Windows Phone 8), it was very unusual not to see any activity from the companies behind these platforms. In fact, Apple, Google and BlackBerry weren’t even exhibiting at the show! In contrast, Samsung continued its dominance at this year’s MWC, showing off several new offerings — Galaxy Note 8.0 tablet (competes directly against the Apple iPad mini); Samsung Wallet (competes directly with Apple’s Passbook); Intel’s Tizen, which was also introduced by Samsung at MWC (a new mobile OS expected to challenge Google’s Android); Samsung HomeSync, a glossy black box that’s an Android-powered media hub (competing directly with Apple TV); and finally Samsung KNOX – a business ready mobile device and management solution (directly competes with Blackberry).
My take is these trends and vendor announcements will see companies proliferate to take on the BYOx plunge (Devices, Apps, Servers). Consumerization will show no sign of abating in 2013 and IT will continue to drive mobile strategizing, with a focus on achieving a return on mobility. As more companies look to the cloud for their mobile app deployment, MBaaS vendors (Mobile-Backend-as-a-Service ala Appcelerator) will shift from consumer to enterprise, only accelerating this macro trend. Centrify is poised to keep “technovating” and help tame the BYOx burden.