Microsoft, Samsung Reportedly Partnering on Office 365 Integration Deal

A deal may be in the works between Microsoft and Samsung aimed at bundling Office 365 apps for Android devices with the Samsung Knox Workspace.

According to a report by Tim Anderson of The Register, the deal was mentioned at last week's Mobile World Congress (MWC) event in Barcelona by Dr. Injong Rhee, senior vice president of the Samsung Knox Business Group. Anderson's report cited Rhee as saying that Microsoft's OneDrive, OneNote and Office 365 apps will come preloaded with the Samsung Knox Workspace security and management technology.

Samsung has posted a video recording of Rhee's MWC talk. However, the recording does not include the details described in The Register story. The story shows Rhee with a background slide that suggests a plan to integrate OneDrive, OneNote and Office 365 apps with Knox.

Microsoft was contacted by e-mail on Monday for comment, but a company spokesperson stated that Microsoft had "nothing to share."

The two companies already have collaborated on the Knox platform by enabling "workplace join" capabilities. Workplace Join is Microsoft's technology for enabling non-domain-joined devices to be managed when running Windows Server 2012 R2 workloads. Brad Anderson, Microsoft corporate vice president for Enterprise Mobility, previously noted that Microsoft has built container technologies to work with both Android and iOS platforms, including SDKs and wrappers for ISVs to leverage. Microsoft is also embedding the mobile device management (MDM) capabilities of its own Intune cloud-based device management solution into Office 365 apps, Anderson said.

While Microsoft could be working to enable the management of Office 365 Android apps via Knox Workspace, it definitely is not working with Google on its Android for Work MDM partner program. Microsoft has affirmed that part, at least.

The Knox platform provides security through a combination of hardware and software. The Knox project got started in November 2011, with products launched in October 2014, according to Rhee. He described the platform as having four elements: a secure platform (Workspace) with containers and certificate management capabilities, a cloud-based MDM system (Knox Enterprise Mobility Management), an enterprise app store for housing SaaS applications with integrated single sign-on capabilities, and an identity and access management system.

Rhee's talk also demonstrated the data separation capabilities of the latest Knox 2.0 container technology. It keeps corporate-managed apps and data separate from personals ones, for instance. End users see different screens, or "personas," when accessing corporate and personal apps. However, Knox 2.0 also features an integrated experience without such distinctions for those that want it.

Rhee claimed that it takes just 10 clicks to set up a manageable Knox mobile device. Samsung Knox has partnered with MDM solution providers AirWatch, Good Technology and MobileIron on the technology, he added. So far, there are 25 million Knox-embedded devices in the market with more than 1 million activated users, he said. Samsung has more than 2,000 engineers dedicated to the Knox project.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.