Google announces Android Enterprise Recommended program for EMM vendors

Initial EMM vendors include Blackberry, Google Cloud, I3 Systems, IBM, Microsoft, MobileIron, SoftBank, SOTI, and VMware.

Today, Google is announcing that the Android Enterprise Recommended program is expanding to cover EMM vendors. This follows the Android Enterprise Recommended device program, which was announced in February 2018.

What is Android Enterprise Recommend?

We know the story: there used to be a huge range of custom Android MDM APIs that were developed by individual hardware OEMs. This made things tough for all parties: OEMs had to build MDM features, EMM vendors had to support them, and then customers had to sort through all the options and figure out what devices to pick.

The Android Enterprise management APIs have now made huge strides in eliminating the fragmentation. Essentially, starting with Android 6.0 in 2015, every device that connects to Google play is required to support Android Enterprise. All the main EMM vendors have responded by supporting it on the server side, as well.

If things have gotten so much better, why have the official program? As the Android Enterprise team told me back when the program started, the idea is certainly not to exclude any device or vendor that supports Android Enterprise features, but rather to have guaranteed levels of support for other aspects of the device and management experience.

For the recommended device program, this means providing operating system and security updates, making sure unlocked devices are available, supporting bulk enrollment, minimum hardware specifications, and so on.

Android Enterprise Recommended for EMM vendors

Since Android Enterprise supports different deployment models (modes for BYOD, COPE, business-only devices, and kiosks), there’s actually a wide range of what various enterprise mobility management vendors support, even at the top levels.

To be in the Android Enterprise Recommended program, EMM vendors must:

  • Standardize their Android support on Android Enterprise, and provide documentation and guidance for customers. (In other words, don’t let customers do new deployments based on legacy Device Admin MDM clients, because that’s the old way and it’s getting deprecated anyway.)
  • Support two out of the three main deployment models: work profiles, full device management, and dedicated device management (e.g. kiosks and rugged devices).
  • Keep field sales up to date on the latest in Android Enterprise, provide Google-trained support, and be able to escalate to Google if needed.
  • Have a track record of successful deployments.

I asked Google if EMM vendors would be required to support new features within a specific time frame, and they replied:

“[...]We plan on updating our requirements on a yearly basis based on priority advanced features that are applicable for enterprise use. We do this in consultation with our EMM partners and share the Advanced required features ahead of time with the expectation that they will work toward building support for the next set of requirements when they are officially updated.”

The vendors announced with the program are Blackberry, Google Cloud, I3 Systems, IBM, Microsoft, MobileIron, SoftBank, SOTI, and VMware.

If you’ve been reading our posts for the last few years, you know that we’ve praised Android Enterprise a lot. That’s not to say that things are perfect—there are still more key features that the community like to see on the road map (check out Jason Bayton’s wish list for 2019), and Samsung has still been slower to completely embrace all aspects of Android Enterprise.

But overall, Google—and the OEMs, EMMs, and vocal customers that are also part of the process—deserve praise. Today’s news is another step in that direction.

While customers don’t choose EMM vendors as often as they choose devices to deploy, making the effect of Android Enterprise Recommended EMM vendors different than the effect of recommended devices, the program should mean they have better ongoing support.

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