As Google Android's presence in the enterprise increases, IT must be able to enforce policies that protect the organization from data breaches and malicious apps across Android devices.
There are many Android smartphone OEMs and they have free rein to make modifications to the OS, which can complicate Android device management for IT. In the past, enterprise mobility management (EMM) vendors had a difficult time keeping up with all the unique management APIs from different OEMs.
The Google OEM Config program aims to fix the issues that come from such a diverse set of devices, and it takes the unification of APIs that Android Enterprise attempted to a new level.
Introduction of Android Enterprise
Google saw the problems that EMM vendors faced and took corrective action. Initially, it established the Android Enterprise program that created a standard for management features and functions. Organizations could be sure that devices on the Android Enterprise Recommended list would be suitable enterprise smartphone options.
Android Enterprise helped establish a base level of management functions that the EMM vendors could program into their products. It also provided enterprise organizations with a minimum requirement for obtaining a new Android device.
But OEMs could create additional management functions that were exclusive to their devices and still qualify for the Android Enterprise program. Samsung, for example, offers Samsung Knox security on its smartphones. These additional features left EMM vendors in the same situation: forced to update their tools each time a new smartphone release hit the market. Once again, this delayed organizations' access to full management capabilities.
Google Android OEM Config simplifies EMM updates
To address the fragmented Android ecosystem and simplify Android management beyond the Android Enterprise program, Google established the OEM Config program.
Google created this program to eliminate the delays between smartphone releases and the respective support from EMM tools and create a universal method for EMM vendors to easily upgrade their suite of management tools. It relieves a significant portion of the special programming burden on EMM vendors and gives organizations a way to establish the management of new devices from virtually day one of smartphone availability.
Each time an Android OEM creates a new device or a device-specific software update, it also creates a custom OEM Config file. This file includes all the required APIs to access the management features the OEM built into its system. The OEM uploads the OEM Config file to the Google Play Store, where IT professionals can easily access it. Once this process is complete, IT pros can download the file and add it to any EMM tool that supports OEM Config.
This allows IT professionals to add management features quickly, as the EMM vendors no longer need to program for each API made available by each different vendor. IT pros can then set the required policies and profiles in the EMM tool, which then sends a file to each on-device OEM Config app for implementation. The OEM Config API file and on-device agent essentially act as a universal translator between the standard management console and the functions on the Android device.
OEM Config is a major step forward in quickly enabling device management suites to support new devices. This program puts all device models from OEMs that support it on an equal footing. In the past, some devices' unique features may not have been included in the EMM tool due to the vendor's resource constraints. OEM Config encourages Android OEMs to differentiate their devices with specialized functions without placing an excessive burden on EMMs and enterprise IT.