In an interesting turn of events, BlackBerry and Samsung have signed an agreement to integrate Samsung KNOX into BlackBerry BES12. KNOX is Samsung’s security suite, which passed one million users earlier in the year and has been used by Google in Android 5.0 Lollipop. KNOX is founded in tamper-proof hardware, in other words device hacking is a no-no: KNOX has been designed to prevent unauthorised bootloaders and kernels from being installed onto the device and uses some of the more advanced features of ARM processors to maintain security. It is approved to run on US Department of Defense networks. BlackBerry Enterprise Server, known as BES, is BlackBerry’s latest generation enterprise mobility management software solution. BES has been used by companies large and small for many years now. The latest version has been designed to be both backwards compatible and future proof with enhancements to reliability and uptime. It includes support for Windows Phone 8, iOS, Android and of course, BlackBerry 10 devices. BES12 is built with any combination of in-premise, public or private cloud networking.
This deal will allow IT admins to manage Samsung Galaxy devices set up using KNOX via BES12. This is great news because it means that users can separate their personal and their business lives; BES firewalls the two sides of the device and safeguards data between them, which makes it an ideal decision for BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) users wanting to keep work and play separate. BES12 also provides Android-specific security enhancements, but at this stage it’s not clear what these are. As part of the agreement, Samsung will resell BES12 to joint customers and BlackBerry will offer KNOX support to BES12 Gold subscribers. We’re awaiting further information, including pricing, but we are expecting the service to go live in early 2015.
The joint project between Samsung and BlackBerry follows the news that BlackBerry have been in discussion with HTC, Xiaomi and Lenovo. BlackBerry’s expertise in the security, encryption and privacy services market shouldn’t be underestimated. And who knows where these partnerships, and potential partnerships, may go? It’s only relatively recently that BES and BBM, BlackBerry Messenger, has been opened up to non-BlackBerry devices. I’d say that whilst BlackBerry has something to learn from Android, Google could learn from BlackBerry too.