SOTI extends Android Enterprise on Zebra devices

Over the past decade, SOTI and Zebra have had a long partnership working together to meet the enterprise mobility needs of organisations worldwide.

In 2013, Motorola Solutions announced the end of development of their Mobility Services Platforms (MSP) management solution, and selected SOTI MobiControl as the approved EMM solution for their devices. Why? Because SOTI’s industry-leading ability to manage Windows Mobile/CE and Android devices is unmatched; and as Motorola Solutions introduced their first Android devices, SOTI MobiControl naturally was the first EMM solution to support them as their partner of choice, says Shash Anand, vice president, Strategic Alliances at SOTI.

When Motorola Solutions’ Enterprise Business was acquired by Zebra Technologies in 2014, SOTI continued this strong partnership with Zebra—and SOTI MobiControl is still the only EMM solution that Zebra officially resells.

Today, SOTI once again solidifies this decade-long partnership through the release of an update to the SOTI MobiControl Android Enterprise agent that includes support for Zebra management capabilities including:

Provisioning of Mobility Extensions (Mx) to manage Zebra device-specific settings
Over-the-air (OTA) deployment of Zebra operating system (OS) updates
SOTI MobiControl agent persistence when a Zebra device is enterprise reset

For any IT Director/Manager tasked with the responsibility to maintain Android devices across the enterprise, this release is game-changing: it marks the first time any Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) solution is able to support OS updates and agent persistence on Zebra Android devices managed using Android Enterprise capabilities.

What does this mean for organisations?

Since Google first introduced Android Enterprise (formerly known as Android for Work) in February of 2015 as a framework for standardizing the management of Android devices, it has quickly become the preferred method for many organizations to manage their Android devices.

Android Enterprise’s broad management capabilities, including the ability to separate personal and work data on personally-enabled devices and integration with Google Play services for app distribution, were able to address the majority of the management and security requirements of organizations. But for many organisations, the majority was not enough.

Organizations that rely on business-critical mobility have business-critical line-of-business (LOB) apps running on work devices such as those offered by Zebra. Imagine being a retailer who uses an app on a handheld that scans for prices. What if that app stopped working after an update to the device’s OS? The downtime and loss of business could be significant.

When many of your core business tasks are dependent on mobile technology, the ability to control OS updates and automatically retain management of all devices (some possibly unmanned) after OS updates becomes paramount.

Currently, such capabilities are not available through Android Enterprise. With the latest update to its Android Enterprise agent, SOTI MobiControl becomes the first EMM solution in the industry to bridge this gap on Zebra Android devices.

Which Zebra devices can take advantage of the new enhancements to the SOTI MobiControl Android Enterprise agent?

Most Zebra devices outfitted with Android N or greater running the SOTI MobiControl Android Enterprise agent 13.4, build 1485 or higher will support the new features. The agent is available on Google Play and can be download from SOTI’s OEM downloads page by selecting “Android Enterprise” in the Manufacturer drop-down list.

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10 Enterprise IoT Predictions for 2018

Maciej Kranz, Cisco

Maciej Kranz, Cisco

By Maciej Kranz*, VP Strategic Innovation, Cisco.

What will 2018 bring for the Internet of Things (IoT)?

While our connected devices, sensors and other “things” cannot see into the future – yet – IoT’s momentum in 2017 gives us a fairly good idea of the what is to come. Throughout the past year, we began to see hints of IoT hitting mainstream in the enterprise, with the number of IoT projects doubling. Yes, we still have progress to make, but 2018 holds promise for this potentially trillion-dollar market.

The following are my top 10 IoT predictions for 2018.

1 IoT devices will converge with machine learning/artificial intelligence (AI), fog computing and blockchain technologies.
This will help companies move from IoT initiatives that merely produce incremental gains, to those that create entirely new business models and revenue streams. As a result, companies will obtain greater value from their IoT investments and drive broader adoption.
2 We will see the rise of co-everything.
The IoT will continue to drive the “co-economy,” or what I like to call, the “co-everything” model in 2018, with companies large and small co-innovating, co-developing and collaborating to develop solutions.
3 The customer will become a co-innovator.
The customer will be at the very center of the new “co-everything” model, working closely with partners and vendors to create solutions that meet their very specific business need.
4 There will be an industry-wide, accelerated move to open standards, open architectures and interoperability.
Vertical players will not only open their architectures and become digitally focused, but will also collaborate with horizontal players on open standards and interoperability for IoT.
5 IoT will become the key security domain.
In 2018, organizations will finally begin to take IoT security seriously, investing in training for their workforces and incorporating security teams from the start of their IoT deployments.
6 Agriculture and Healthcare will emerge as top adopters of IoT technologies with the most innovative use cases.
In agriculture, IoT will allow organizations to tackle challenges such as the lack of workers or qualified workers, access to water and food, and safety issues. The healthcare industry will also emerge as a leader in innovative IoT use cases, from accelerated drug testing to remote patient monitoring and care.
7 Governments will become more aggressive in legislating IoT security, open systems and interoperability standards.
This includes the enactment of the first IoT-specific regulations, as well as a strong focus on the regulation of autonomous vehicles, drones and even AI-based systems – all related to IoT.
8 IoT will revolutionize data analytics.
IoT will drive the shift from batch analytics based on static datasets to dynamic or real-time analytics, and streaming data using AI and machine learning. These real-time analytics capabilities allow enterprises to make faster, more informed business decisions that deliver greater ROI.
9 China will solidify its spot as top IoT innovator and adopter.
This is a result of China’s government’s robust IoT initiatives and investments (such as its IoT Special Fund), increasing maturity of the market and aggressive adoption of IoT technology.
10 The focus of IoT will move from driving efficiencies to creating new business value.
Companies will use IoT to uncover new business opportunities, create new revenue streams, value propositions for customers and much more.

It’s been a long time coming for enterprise IoT, but I am confident that 2018 will be a pivotal year. It will be especially exciting to see IoT converge with AI, blockchain and fog computing technologies as companies co-innovate with their partner ecosystems to build solutions sthat truly transform businesses. Happy New Year!

*About Maciej Kranz, Vice President, Strategic Innovations, Cisco Systems
Maciej Kranz brings 30 years of networking industry experience to his position as Vice President of Cisco’s Strategic Innovation Group. In this role, he leads efforts to incubate new businesses and accelerate co-innovation internally and externally with customers and startups through a global network of Innovation Centers. He has also pioneered dozens of IoT projects across multiple industries, wrote the New York Times Best Seller, Building the Internet of Things, publishes an IoT newsletter, and spearheads an industry leadership community.

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What smart homes can learn from enterprise IoT

(from left) Roy Vella of Hive, me, Matt Van Horn of June and Rob Martens of Allegion. Photo courtesy of the Target Open House.

This year may go down as the last year that companies tossed connected devices out into the market without a plan for the long-term business model required to support it. Or at least I hope it is. This was a focus of a conversation I held last week in San Francisco at the Target Open House with the makers of several consumer connected devices.

Roy Vella, who is in charge of building the U.S. market for Hive, brought up the idea that when thinking about a business model or even lifecycle for a connected device a company should start with time. As in, how long would the business support the device? Hive sells a series of smart home devices for a monthly service charge.

Vella said the planned life of a product is an essential element in figuring out how much it will cost to support it. More than that, it also gives the manufacturer a clear sense of its responsibilities while providing consumers a clear sense of what they should expect.

I’ve talked about giving connected products an expiration date before, but I hadn’t really thought much about the power that comes with setting a time limit on a connected product. It makes the product look more like a service, and it also sets expectations throughout the supply chain.

The supply chain needs these expectations. I had a conversation ahead of the event with a chip company executive who was bemoaning the fact that one of his clients wanted a security update for a six-year-old connected product. But, as a consumer, my six-year-old connected light switches better get security upgrades, because they are now installed inside the wall.

Which brings us back to the cost of supporting connected devices. The concept is that instead of a piece of hardware, people are now buying a service. If you are in the enterprise or industrial world and reading this, you’re likely nodding along and wondering why it took so long for the consumer device makers to wake up to this.

For example, it’s common to negotiate support for that massive MRI machine software so the vendor services it and supports the software for a set amount of time. In some cases, the supply chain isn’t totally on board as witnessed by medical equipment vendors who are not updating bugs in their older gear, but the idea has been there for decades.

This is controversial in the consumer world because most companies don’t sell their devices as services, a point that June CEO Matt Van Horn was quick to point out. When people buy the June oven, they are buying an oven, not the service of being able to heat food perfectly.

But you can’t have connectivity without costs. Van Horn’s solution is to sell recipes as a service and to sell additional gear for the June oven. This could work. As a June oven owner, I asked Van Horn if I would be profitable as customer even if I never subscribed to the recipe service or bought any more gear.

He told me that cloud costs generally decline over time, which isn’t a real answer. I think we need to get to the point where the maker of a connected device can deliver that real answer. And as consumers, we need to rethink what we’re buying when we buy a connected device. Does that mean I need to pay an annual fee for “access” to my oven? Probably not, but it does mean a manufacturer has to have a real plan when I ask, how long will this last?

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Why passive optical LANs are the IT backbone to future proof today’s enterprise networks

As businesses undergo digital transformations to remain competitive, they need to provide an IT backbone that is fast, secure and reliable, while exceeding growing bandwidth needs. What they are finding is that existing copper cabling cannot keep pace.

IT executives are constantly being challenged with the need for greater performance and bandwidth in their enterprise networks. The demand for more elaborate security coupled with superior scalability and reliability at lower costs is at an all time high. The cloud, the Internet of Things (IoT), big data analytics, connected cars and mobile devices are all driving the need, not only for wireless capabilities to be enhanced, but also for stronger wireline technologies.  

To support this massive influx in technology applications, enterprises must look at installing a state-of-the-art IT backbone – one that is fast, secure and reliable, with the future in mind. The Association of Passive Optical LAN (APOLAN), a non-profit organization comprised of individuals and companies driving the education and implementation of passive optical LAN, is the champion for Passive Optical LAN (POL) technologies. This next generation networking is the answer to the headaches IT executives in enterprises are facing, and will continue to face as technological progress advances.

POLs provide an abundance of advantages over traditional copper cabling, and below are ten key benefits outlined by APOLAN that will help enterprises move more effortlessly in to the digital age and beyond.

Cutting costs

Passive optical LAN (POL) technology reduces both capital and operational costs because less equipment is involved, and there are lower energy and cooling needs. This makes the technology easier to deploy and maintain than traditional copper-based LANs. In addition, POL requires less frequent upgrading (about every ten years or so). Compared this to every five to seven years with copper and the numbers begin to add up, in the long run.

Powering it down

POL technology eliminates the need for workgroup access switches, which in turn reduces or eliminates the impact on power and HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) in the wiring closets. It also gets rid of the high maintenance costs associated with switches and reduces those costs for power and cooling.

A network space saver

Copper-based LANs demand telecom rooms, but POLs – with their reduced equipment and cabling requirements as well as lower power and cooling needs – take up very little space in buildings. This reduces or in some cases eradicates the need for wiring closets, which translates into valuable space savings.

More scalable and available

Given the changes that an increasingly digital world demands, network backbone technologies will have to be highly scalable to address bandwidth needs and must do so with no unplanned interruptions. POLs offer higher rates of scalability and availability compared with copper-based LANS.

Up and running faster

Passive optical LANs require fewer components and are essentially less complex than copper-based LANs, which means they can be deployed faster and maintained more easily. This is a real boon for IT teams where time is a precious commodity.

Faster path to certification

Another time-saver when compared with copper-based LANs relates to the certification for POLs. Certification for copper-based networks can take several weeks, while it normally only takes just over three days for POLs.

Getting ready for 5G

The new mobile networks emerging, such as 5G, hold the promise of significant improvements on the current 4G standard, including as much as 1,000 times the bandwidth, 100 times more connected devices and five nines availability (99.999 per cent). This move will impact both wireless and wired networks, and expected gains from the migration to 5G will rely on efficient and reliable optical networks.

More future proofing

POLs also help enterprises future-proof their infrastructures. One way is that as technology evolves, it’s the active endpoints that will need to be refreshed, not the network itself. The lifespan of a POL solution is predicted to be as long as 30 years, compared with five to eight years for Ethernet solutions. This is a significant improvement.

The long run

Passive optical LANs can reach much further than copper wiring – more than 12 miles compared with around 300 feet for copper. Eliminating distance constraints provides tremendous improvements in the design and deployment opportunities for both large and small campus networks or multi-story buildings.

Making it green

With minimal power consumption and air-conditioning needs and reduced equipment demands, POLs can help drive environmentally friendly green initiatives. The technology supports both Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and Green Globe certifications.

As APOLAN and its members continue to educate enterprises, as well as organisations in the health, hospitality, construction and education sectors, about the substantial benefits that POL brings, they begin to understand why the future of networks is only going one-way – optical. All the technological advancements in the world will be of little significance if networks are unable support them, so it's no wonder that POL is being implemented, or at least thought about, by those that require a reliable, scalable, cost effective and secure LAN solution. It’s the only way to future proof your network.

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