To the applause of government employees across the U.S., the DoD (Department of Defense) has given the green light to Samsung Knox devices. For some this has been a long-awaited approval as choices in devices for those in federal agencies have been a bit lacking in the past, confined to Blackberry and Microsoft-based products for the most part until recently. The devices added to the approved list are the Galaxy S4, Galaxy S4 Active, Galaxy Note 3, the Galaxy Note Pro 12.2, and the Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition. While some of these devices may seem a generation behind, one would imagine it takes a while for a device to be tested and approved to go on the list (but Samsung is doing all it can to get newer devices solidly using Knox and up to par).
Samsung hopes to provide a greater variety of products that will help to drive down costs to the agencies moving forward. One would expect that Samsung’s wide selection would be a great benefit, but it’s possible that because of the large amount of products they produce it will be hard for the DoD to sift through and select which devices can and cannot be used in the future. However, some are better that none and if the comments I’ve seen around the Internet on this story from military tech folks are any indication, they are happy to see this bit of news.
We can only hope that moving forward Samsung will continue to get devices on the DoD’s approved list, and that other Android manufacturers will be able to get on as well in a meaningful way. The flexibility of Android seems like a perfect fit and no-brainer when it comes to securing and locking down devices and encrypting communication. Unlike other locked-down proprietary platforms, one would think that it would be easier for Android to be molded to fit the 100+ DoD requirements. Knox is a step in the right direction, but I expect this space to only heat up as more companies compete for a piece of the pie.
At the end of the day this doesn’t only signal a shift in the DoD, but will have implications for the businesses that interact with the affected government agencies. Defense contractors who interface with these groups are held to many of the same standards when it comes to encryption and securing sensitive data. This change could very well have implications on how these contractors decide what devices to purchase.
As a final note, choices in this area not only benefit the people who now get to use the products – but also to the American taxpayer. More options mean more opportunities to make fiscally positive decisions in government, which can only be a good thing. Looking forward to see how this space continues to evolve as BYOD becomes a greater factor, but this is definitely a step in the right direction.