What is Android Enterprise? Everything You Need to Know

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    While enterprises, big or small, are adapting quickly to enterprise mobility, they are also finding it difficult to manage mobile devices. Enterprises prefer Android devices for work, followed by iOS devices. Previously, organizations used the Device Administration API, which was available for Android 2.2 and was released in 2010, to provide a support system for enterprise applications.

    what is Android Enterprise

    However, after the advancements in mobile technology, organizational needs increased, and that demanded stringent Android MDM solutions and security systems. Mobility at work was significantly simplified once Google initiated the Android Enterprise program. We need to understand clearly what Android Enterprise is and how its integration and support have redefined Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM).

    What is Android Enterprise?

    In 2014, Google initiated Android Enterprise, also known as “Android for Work” (AfW), with Android Lollipop (5.0), an improved framework for managing the devices that facilitated the differentiation of personal and work data and enhanced security. 

    Thereafter, in 2015, with the release of Android 6.0, AFW became available and is being consistently improved with every incremental Android release for granular control over data and apps.

    Google renamed “Android for Work” to simply “Android.”. It is an umbrella term that includes management and security features available in every Android OS release. However, when we’re talking about the specific functionality of Android in a business setting, we may refer to it as “Android Enterprise” or “Android in the Enterprise.”. Likewise, when talking about managing business apps in Google Play, we may refer to it as “Managed Google Play”. Your services and pricing remain the same. 

    Understanding Android Enterprise Recommended (AER)

    Android Enterprise Recommended is a Google-led initiative designed to elevate the standards of enterprise devices and services. This program sets stringent benchmarks for devices, applications, and service providers, ensuring they meet the elevated requirements of the modern enterprise landscape. It serves as a reliable reference point for businesses looking to deploy Android technology in their operations.

    Key aspects of the Android Enterprise Recommended program include:

    1. Rigorous Standards: Devices and services under this program undergo rigorous testing and meet high standards for hardware, software, deployment, security updates, and user experience. This guarantees a level of performance and support essential for business operations.
    2. Regular Updates: Devices in the AER program receive regular security updates, ensuring that enterprise data remains secure against evolving digital threats.
    3. Consistent User Experience: The program ensures a consistent and intuitive user experience across various devices and services, which is crucial for businesses deploying a diverse range of Android solutions.
    4. Enterprise-Grade Services and Support: Beyond just the devices, the program encompasses service providers who demonstrate expertise in implementing and supporting Android in enterprise environments. This includes advanced features like zero-touch enrollment and support for bulk device provisioning.
    5. Enhanced Security and Management Features: AER devices and services offer advanced security features and management capabilities, allowing IT departments to maintain control over devices and sensitive data effectively.

    What are the Options to Deploy Company-owned Android Devices?

    Zero-touch – Zero-touch enrolment of devices in bulk with zero manual setups, hence enabling the device to automatically get enrolled in EMM when it is put on for the first time itself. Devices that can be enabled are:

    • Android Oreo (8.0) or Pixel phone with Android Nougat (7.0) purchased from a reseller partner
    • An enterprise mobility management (EMM) provider supports device owner mode

    NFC: Transfer configurations to a new device with an NFC bump

    EMM Token: Users enter a code to bind an Android enterprise solution

    QR Code: The QR code is scanned to enroll a device from the setup wizard

    Android Application Management Enterprises can

    • Securely manage apps
    • Configure apps
    • Deploy third-party as well as in-house apps
    • Whitelist and blacklist apps

    How Personal and Work Profiles Work Via Google

    Managed Google Play:

    It allows IT to have its own app store with the combination of Google Play. It combines basic app store functionality and some management capabilities. It allows the selection, purchase, and management of apps for the organization.

    Google Play EMM API:

    When the Google Play API is incorporated into an EMM product, the admin can control which apps the user can access from the managed Google Play Store. The user can search, view, install, and update an app. It works in conjunction with Managed Google Play to support the entire app management process.

    An EMM platform that incorporates the Application Management API makes it possible for administrators to

    • Enable work profiles
    • Apply app-level management policies
    • Secure apps and data
    • Automatically install apps
    • Prevent apps from being uninstalled
    • Distribute public and private apps

    This concludes an overall overview of what Android Enterprise is and its significant importance for businesses. If your organization has struggled or is struggling with managing Android devices and is looking for a better solution for entirely corporate-owned devices, it could well be time to consider “Android” and partner with an apt EMM solution.

    Scalefusion provides the following features –

    • Enrolling and unenrolling an enterprise with MLP
    • Deploying applications directly from Play Store to Work-Managed device
    • Enforcing App Permission policies for applications approved from Managed Google Play Store
    • Enforcing App Configuration policies for the applications approved from Managed Google Play Store
    • Enforcing Password policies on work-managed devices
    • Ability to remotely Screen Lock and Factory Reset the device

    Find out more about how to set up Android for the Enterprise and enroll in Scalefusion and learn about various features.

    How and Why Android Enterprise Was Introduced?

    Google has always been thoughtful about how enterprises can best leverage its Android operating system for business. Today, Android is gaining ground as one of the most preferred operating systems, which is powering a number of devices like smartphones, tablets, mPOS, digital signage, and Android-based RFID readers. Thanks to the introduction of Android Enterprise (formerly known as Android for Work). Google introduced Android Enterprise to eliminate real-world enterprise problems and challenges around device security, data protection, device management, and application usage. Before we dig deeper into Android Enterprise, let’s see why it was needed by businesses.

    Enterprise Challenges Before the Introduction of Android Enterprise (or AFW)

    Before 2010, when Android Device Administrator API (for Android 2.2) was introduced for the first time, Android never had any enterprise management features. This API enabled EMM vendors to build agent applications to perform and enforce certain policies. Individual device manufacturers could build and offer more advanced enterprise features by adding their own Android management APIs. These varied management options open to OEMs created chaos and fragmentation in the market. Companies that provided devices to employees could standardize the set of features on one particular device. However, the problem happened when BYOD came into the picture, allowing employees to bring in their own phones at work, which created a heterogeneous mobile environment leading to difficult times for IT management.

    How Android Enterprise Came Into Being?

    Even though Android holds 80% of the total global smartphone market, companies have avoided Android adoption, mainly due to concerns about data security and insufficient management capabilities. Google’s Android Enterprise has changed that by introducing major improvements in management functionalities and business security. Google had tirelessly worked on improving its versions and ensured its consequential success with enterprises.

    The enhanced version possessed varied enterprise-level features that enabled company IT teams to seamlessly enroll, provision and manage company devices through third-party EMM vendors. The significance and role of Android Enterprise are most prominent in companies that embrace and include an active BYOD policy, enabling employees to work from their personal devices.

    Android Enterprise for BYOD Scenario

    In the case of BYOD, it basically separates the user’s personal information from work-related data and apps with the help of containerization. Today, most devices on the market support Android Enterprise features.

    BYOD works by creating a separate work profile, like a restricted and managed environment that appears as a folder with a sign of a briefcase on it. Having Android Enterprise set on a device means the EMM vendor will have some control over the device regarding monitoring and managing the work profile and the business apps and enterprise data contained within.

    This is How Android Enterprise Works in BYOD Environments

    • A device is supposed to be configured with two separate profiles – one for personal use and the other for professional purposes. The work profile will contain corporate content and business apps with the badge of a briefcase to differentiate them from personal apps. This separation can be applied while enrolling the device in an Android Device Management software with the help of an EMM vendor who takes care of the technical details like security, user management, containerization, etc.
    • The EMM vendor can apply policies to keep the enterprise data within the work profile secure and separate from the personal profile and data. Having complete control over the work profile, the IT admin can install/uninstall/manage business apps, content, and credentials and can enforce dynamic policies, disable certain functionalities, manage password policies, and separate lock screens within the work profile to avoid any sort of data leakage.
    • Under the BYOD policy, after creating a separate work profile, the user can still use his/her own device for personal usage. The two separate profiles need to be secured with different lock screens and passcodes, wherein the work profile will contain all the business-specific content, apps, and information, while the personal profile will contain all the rest of the information. The EMM vendor applies security settings wherein the work data cannot be copied, shared, or intermingled with personal data.
    • The separate work profile can be managed, monitored and secured by the company IT admin (in accordance with the EMM policies and features), who can also enable or disable the entire business profile and perform tasks like silently updating apps, applying security policies, etc. In the case of device loss or theft, the IT admin can also remotely wipe the data stored under the work profile. But all these are done without compromising or intruding on the personal data and information of the device user.

    Android Enterprise for Corporate-Owned Devices

    In the case of organizations that seek to provide corporate-owned devices to their employees, Android Enterprise offers several robust management features and security policies. Here, companies can follow two options – either to fully manage and control the devices (Android 5.0+) along with the apps and content, which are issued to the employees for work purposes, or to fully manage the devices with a work profile (Android 8.0+).

    In the case of fully managed deployments, the corporate-owned devices are solely used for work purposes, and the company IT admin can enforce a full range of management policies and device-level policies (not available to the work profiles) to control the entire device and its usage.

    In the case of fully managed deployments with a work profile, the company does manage the entire corporate-owned device but allows the employees to use the device for both work and personal work. Here the work profile, including work data and apps, is kept separate and is managed by the company with stronger policy controls, and the personal profile, including personal apps and data, will also be controlled by the IT admin with a lighter set of policies.

    There is another type of deployment wherein company-owned devices are used only for a particular kind of business purpose, often called dedicated use. Here too, Android Enterprise offers a broad spectrum of management features that enable companies to deploy devices for multiple use cases like employee-facing devices used in harsh environments like mines and construction sites (rugged devices) and customer-facing devices (kiosks, mPOS, and digital signages) used to fulfill specific business purposes. Dedicated devices can be locked into a single or multi-app kiosk mode.

    Google’s Android Enterprise has enabled organizations to leverage Android along with its comprehensive set of security and management features that would help them integrate Devices within the enterprise scenario with total ease and efficiency. Android devices managed by an EMM solution like Scalefusion act like powerful productivity tools that empower the company IT team to drive precision, security, and operational excellence across the teams.

    The beauty of Android Enterprise or AFW lies in the fact that the users can seamlessly use their personal devices at work without even feeling any difference in the user experience. The separation between personal and work profiles is smooth, and the EMM functionality remains hidden unless the authorized user accesses the work profile to meet the business purpose. 

    The involvement of a dependable EMM partner like Scalefusion with robust and enterprise-grade features opens up multiple ways to leverage Android Enterprise.  The adoption is easy and effortless for companies and seamlessly puts control of the business profile to whom it should belong – the company IT team.

    Nema Buch
    Nema Buch
    Nema Buch is a Research & Marketing professional, also writes for Scalefusion on Enterprise Mobility trends, SaaS, and different Industry Verticals.

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