Lollipop for Enterprises – Real Candy or Just a Wrapper?

by March 25, 2015 0 comments

The latest OS upgrade to Android has quite a few features that could suddenly take away all concerns that enterprises have always had with bringing devices based on the OS into their network
– Alok Sinha, CEO, Globus Eight India P Ltd.

 
Out of every 10 smartphones in India, 8 are based on Android. Indian enterprise customers seem to have been pushed, kicking and crying, to deal with this onslaught of powerful, miniature computing devices that have invaded their peaceful domains’ discreet computing stations called Desktops, Servers and Notebooks.

 
However, making something available and making it really usable, are two different things, and so far, all previous versions of Android have not been able to impress enterprise users. Maybe the slew of features offered by the upcoming Android Lollipop would change things for better.As of Nov, 2014, less than 20.5% of all Android phones are on KitKat, and Lollipop still appears to be the stork that should deliver a baby soon. However, if Google’s acquisition of Divide (Enterprise friendly device manager), and leading the Knox innovation (Project with Samsung) are anything to go by, then Google is obviously ready to flaunt several enterprise friendly features in Lollipop soon. Let’s see the manifestations of these features and initiatives in Lollipop.

 
Android Work, a re-hash of Divide, will allow IT staff to have a single framework of control over employee devices. What it effectively means is the ability to distinguish between personal data and company information and the ability to secure one over the other. There have been a few other security enhancements too, e.g. Encryption is on by default, which of course, is a welcome state by any security fearing IT professional. Another long awaited ability (that actually came earlier in KitKat), is SELinux’s ability to give orchestrated control to one application over others.

 

Beyond the understandable push for security, Lollipop does something more, which perhaps was not asked for by Enterprises, not yet at least. This is the ability for Android 5 to traverse various devices, including conventional computing devices like tablets, smartphones and newer elements of wearable and embedded systems. All these make a very strong statement for the events to come. I believe that we are yet to see the complete picture. In the days to come, this component will become far more important to enterprises from what it is today. This is a big thing to watch out for.

 
While, the IT giants like Microsoft, HP, IBM, etc have been working diligently to fulfill the needs of large enterprise customers, the SME market was basically left to fend for itself. It is in this ‘Enterprise’ space that Google has silently been creeping in. While on its own, the enterprise elements of Lollipop may not seem to be anything more than a wrapper, but in the SME world, things are a little difference because it has already moved on to Google Apps, Google Cloud (compute, storage, app), Mail, scheduling calendar, ID management, authentication, etc. So when you look at the whole bouquet and compound it with the newer elements of Lollipop, the wrapper seems to give way to some real serious business cases.

 
For Android to become a mainstream player in the Enterprise space, the next steps for Google would be to transform itself from ‘a software’ company to ‘a solutions’ company. There is already a suite of product lines that is desirable for enterprises, but is yet to be packaged under Lollipop.
Beyond the bright shiny wrapped candy called Lollipop, Google (not the resellers) representatives will have to do much more to sit in front of a multi-million dollar enterprise CIO and convince him that Lollipop should be the next platform for his core IT deployment.

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