Samsung vs. Apple: Mobility partnerships hold the key for Samsung

Samsung has formed a number of partnerships in an effort to compete with Apple in the enterprise marketplace. We look at how each one could affect the enterprise.

In an attempt to get more serious about the enterprise, Samsung has forged mobility partnerships with several major names -- SAP, BlackBerry, Centrify and Good Technology are just a few of the company's notable allies.

Like Apple, Samsung's mobile devices initially focused on the consumer, but the bring your own device (BYOD) movement changed the landscape. Samsung is now making an earnest effort to win over the enterprise audience – again, following Apple's lead -- and is well-positioned to be competitive.

In Samsung's initial push into the enterprise world, it introduced such programs as Samsung for Enterprise, Samsung Knox enterprise mobility management (EMM) and the Samsung Enterprise Alliance Program. The company is now broadening its horizons through a range of mobility partnerships that address everything from end-to-end security to mobile point of sale (mPOS) offerings.

Samsung and SAP

Not to be outdone by Apple's partnership with IBM -- which has produced a new line of business apps -- Samsung and SAP announced plans to collaborate on providing a set of enterprise mobility services based on Samsung mobile devices.

One thing is certain: Samsung doesn't plan to sit idly by.

The joint venture will result in new opportunities for developers to take advantage of Samsung's mobile capabilities together with the SAP HANA Cloud Platform and SAP Mobile Platform. Users can benefit from secure and seamless integration between the SAP platforms and Samsung's line of mobile devices, including wearables such as the Samsung Gear S.

Initially, Samsung and SAP will target markets that require greater mobility, but the partnership should also create opportunities to integrate the Internet of Things into business processes. For example, the two companies plan to create services that enhance mobile banking, improve healthcare analytics and streamline access to product and inventory data at retail outlets.

Samsung and Oracle

Rumors are also flying that Samsung is teaming up with Oracle to offer cloud-based services, although neither company has confirmed the speculation.

If a Samsung-Oracle partnership were to move forward, Samsung could build inroads into sectors of the enterprise market not otherwise accessible. Oracle would also provide a greater audience for distributing cloud-based services, including the consumer market.

What's not being discussed is how such an arrangement might affect Samsung's collaborative efforts with SAP. Oracle and SAP go head to head in several areas, from business intelligence to enterprise resource planning to customer relationship management. Although Samsung's mobility partnerships with the two companies are not mutually exclusive, it's difficult to know whether competing interests could collide.

Samsung and BlackBerry

Even if an Oracle deal doesn't materialize, Samsung isn't standing still. The company recently announced a partnership with BlackBerry to develop a security and management system for Samsung's Galaxy devices. It plans to integrate BlackBerry Enterprise Service (BES) 12 mobile management software with Samsung Knox to deliver enterprise-level device security and governance.

Integrating BES12 could help Samsung clear one of its biggest hurdles in the enterprise: Android's perceived security risks compared to Apple. Even though BlackBerry has ceded ground on the smartphone front, the company is still recognized as a leader in securing and managing mobile devices.

Samsung improving its mobile management and security is big news itself, but that story has taken a backseat to a rumor that Samsung plans to buy out BlackBerry. Both companies are denying reports that Samsung offered to purchase BlackBerry, but that hasn't ended speculation over what a potential merger might look like. Samsung could benefit from BlackBerry's various patents -- an advantage in the ongoing Samsung versus Apple arms race -- but the risk of taking on the floundering business device company might not be worth the cost.

In the meantime, the two companies continue to find common ground, announcing their collaboration on an ultra-secure modified version of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S. The device, which is being marketed as the SecuTABLET, will use a security card developed by Secusmart, a recent BlackBerry acquisition, and secure app-wrapping technology from IBM.

Samsung and Good Technology

Samsung and Good Technology are teaming up to create a new enterprise mobility platform called Good for Samsung Knox. The venture aims to chip away at negative perceptions of Android security in the enterprise.

To help protect devices even more, Samsung plans to integrate Good's application container and management platform directly into the Knox security ecosystem. Good for Samsung Knox will prevent users from rooting corporate devices and stop rooted BYOD devices from accessing corporate resources. The new platform will also keep malware from modifying the kernel, while also securing applications and their data, whether at rest, in memory or in transit.

Samsung is moving aggressively to fortify its device security, but it also raises questions about how Samsung's Good Technology strategy will fit with its BlackBerry strategy. Will enterprises approve and support Samsung devices based on whether they include BlackBerry or Good management and security features? Will enterprises have to lock themselves into specific vendors to get the services they need? And will Samsung issue different versions of its devices to support different vendor offerings?

Samsung and Centrify

Although some of Samsung's other mobility partnerships could clash with each other, there's nothing ambiguous about its agreement with Centrify to serve as Samsung's identity access management (IAM) provider. In this case, the focus is on Samsung's cloud-based Knox EMM service.

With IAM support from Centrify, Knox EMM can deliver a cloud-hosted product that combines device management with identity federation for mobile apps and services. Knox EMM is particularly attractive to enterprises because it supports multiple mobile platforms, including Apple's iOS. You can bet Apple is paying close attention to whether Centrify makes Knox EMM more popular among IT pros.

Samsung and the enterprise

All these partnerships represent an attempt by Samsung to counter Apple's much-publicized IBM partnership, along with Apple's enterprise standing in general. Names such as Centrify, BlackBerry and Good Technology resonate with IT, and Samsung is likely to stir the waters in the next couple years.

The mobility partnership frenzy doesn't stop there. Samsung has hooked up with Verifone to deliver Android-based mPOS products. It also forged a partnership with LoopPay to deliver a mobile payment system intended to rival Apple Pay. Finally, Samsung teamed up with Facebook to build a virtual reality headset and joined forces with Montblanc to create custom styluses for the Galaxy Note.

We'll have to wait for the dust to settle before we can appreciate the consequences of Samsung's aggressive alliance strategy, but one thing is certain: Samsung doesn't plan to sit idly by. It's going to be Samsung versus Apple, Google and Microsoft as each company makes its play for sections of the enterprise market. It will be especially interesting to see the products that are sure to result from Samsung's slew of partnerships.

Next Steps

Read about three new versions of Knox

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