Google has today announced Zero‑touch enrollment, enabling large scale Android deployments across multiple device makers so organizations can mobilize their employees with ease.
With new Android zero-touch provisioning organizations no longer have to manually configure devices and enroll them in enterprise mobility management (EMM) software. Instead, the IT department can set that up through a portal when buying the devices, which then ship with the selected settings and preinstalled software.
With zero-touch provisioning, IT assigns a user ID to a specific device during the purchasing process. When the user receives the device for the first time, they sign in with that ID, and their settings and EMM software are already configured.
Zero-touch provisioning finally gives Android an answer to Apple’s Device Enrollment Program (DEP), but its initial lack of device support could limit its usefulness.
In the U.S., the new Android device enrollment program is now available for Google Pixel phones purchased through Verizon. AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile plan to offer zero-touch provisioning later this year, and the Huawei Mate 10 and Sony Xperia XZ1 devices will support the program in the coming weeks.
Ryan O’Shea, vice president of National Business Channels with Verizon Wireless commented,
“For our business customers, deploying new devices and services securely with the ability to enforce device-specific policies is critical for protecting proprietary information and an organization’s brand,”
“The Android zero-touch enrollment program allows our business customers to get up and running seamlessly and securely, and we are excited today to introduce this initiative on the Pixel phone and other future Android devices.”
Google also said it is working with other Android device manufacturers, including Samsung, LG, HTC, Motorola and BlackBerry, to bring zero-touch provisioning to their devices.
One potential problem is that only certain EMM providers support the new Android device enrollment program. Those include VMware, MobileIron, BlackBerry, IBM and SOTI. Microsoft and Citrix are the most notable omissions from that list.
By contrast, the Apple DEP is available through Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and other carriers and resellers, and it has support from all iOS devices and major EMM vendors. Plus, starting with iOS 11, Apple now allows IT to add devices purchased outside the program, either by the organization or by individual users.