13 Jun 2017

Control enterprise device firmware updates with Enterprise FOTA

By Technical Publications Team

Many enterprises invest significant resources into custom apps to support their business processes. These apps can allow employees to fulfill their duties regardless of their location—whether in an office or on the road.

When your employees rely upon your apps to be productive, the last thing that you want is for those apps to break. If an employee updates their mobile device to a new firmware version, it's possible that your apps might be incompatible with the new firmware.

Previously, you could use an MDM policy to prohibit users from upgrading their firmware OTA (allowOTAUpgrade(false)), or disallow all firmware updates (allowFirmwareRecovery(false)). While these methods are effective in preventing unwanted upgrades, they don't offer the flexibility that allow organizations to test new firmware versions and selectively roll them out to their users.

Enterprise FOTA (Firmware Over-The-Air) enables enterprises to control which versions of firmware updates are installed on their employees' devices. This allows you to verify that business critical software is compatible with a specific firmware version before you distribute the firmware to employee devices. This can prevent unwanted incompatibilities between corporate software and firmware.

Controlling firmware versions on employee devices

The process of using E-FOTA to control firmware versions on devices can be broken down into three phases, which correspond with the available APIs:

  1. Register a group with the Enterprise FOTA service (serviceregister)
  2. Get a list of available firmware versions from the B2B server (firmware)
  3. Update devices to a specified firmware version by either:
    1. Configure and schedule forced updates for a group of devices (serverinit). This doesn’t require any end-user interaction to accept an update, unlike regular FOTA.
    2. Set which version of firmware the devices can be updated to using FOTA (setAllowedFOTA). Users can't update the device to a higher firmware version. This still requires end-user confirmation to accept an update, but the target version can be controlled.

You can manage your enterprise devices by creating several groups of devices. You can prevent software conflicts by choosing one of the groups to be used for testing devices (say as part of a Software Quality Assurance team). You roll out the desired firmware version to those devices and then test your corporate apps on those devices. Once any issues have been addressed, you can then roll out firmware updates to other groups of devices, and update any corporate apps that were changed to work with the new firmware.

Next steps