iOS 6 has lots of business potential, but having a plan about rolling it out is critical.
With the release of iOS 6, Apple will offer business users a range of new features. A few of which are VIP email filtering (already in Mountain Lion) with custom notifications, more options when declining a phone call on the iPhone, much-needed privacy options, and Apple’s new Do Not Disturb feature – which should help some mobile professionals to “switch off” after work and maybe even get a good night’s sleep.
iOS updates are generally designed to be user-friendly and easy enough that anyone can manage to install them. As with any major OS or business critical software upgrade, however, there may be unforeseen issues with iOS 6 – particularly when it comes to internal iOS apps and iOS access to enterprise systems.
An iOS 6 upgrade policy and strategy is something that every IT department should have in place before Apple releases iOS 6. For businesses that actively support user devices in the workplace through a BYOD (bring your own device) program, that upgrade strategy is even more critical.
iOS 6 will deliver a lot of business features, but what about enterprise/IT integration?
It’s been over two years since Apple unveiled iOS 4 with mobile management features designed to make the iPhone and iPad a significantly better corporate citizen. During those years, the landscape of business and enterprise mobility has changed dramatically. RIM has collapsed and will never truly recover, Microsoft has doubled down on the interface it launched late in 2010 with no guarantee of success, and Android has become much more enterprise friendly. Perhaps more important is the fact that idea of mobile management and security has shifted from a focus on devices to a focus on securing data and managing mobile apps.
As all this has happened, Apple’s mobile management framework, which is the system that all mobile management vendors plug into in order to secure and manage iOS devices, has essentially stagnated. With iOS 6 on the horizon, lets look at the areas that Apple needs to address if it wants iOS to remain one of the preferred mobile platforms for business.
Business to business app development is likely to be a growing enterprise trend. Apple has a solution, even if it isn’t yet a perfect one.
According a study released earlier this month, Apple’s iOS is becoming the most popular platform for enterprise app development – with 53.2% of developers picking iOS for corporate app development compared to 37.4% of developers standing behind Android. RIM’s BlackBerry, the old guard of enterprise mobility, came in a distant fourth behind Windows Phone with only 2% of developers supporting it.
That’s great news for Apple and the iPhone and iPad in business and enterprise environments. Apple even makes enterprise distribution possible outside of the App Store. Mobile App Management (MAM) and enterprise app store solutions provide efficient and effective distribution and update methods for enterprise apps.
Business to business (B2B) apps and solutions, however, present a different kind of challenge – one for which Apple has a solution, even if it isn’t a perfect solution.
Apple’s volume purchase program falls short for many schools and businesses.
Apple’s Volume Purchase Program (VPP) is the company’s half-hearted attempt to deliver some form of enterprise licensing program for the iOS App Store. The program does make it marginally easier for businesses to bulk purchase and deploy apps to iPhones and iPads than telling employees to buy apps and then reimbursing them, but it still leaves a lot to be desired. As we reported earlier this summer, many businesses and school still feel Apple doesn’t meet their app purchase and deployment needs.
Mobile app management (MAM) vendor App 47 summed up some of the key issues and how it can help companies deal with them as part of the company’s summer lecture series on app management.
Apple continues to update Apple Remote Desktop without issuing a major new feature-laden upgrade.
Apple released a range of updates to the its Mac applications last week along with the release of Mountain Lion on Wednesday. Most of those updates were to integrate new Mountain Lion technologies and provide general compatibility with the new OS.
Among them were updates for Apple Remote Desktop, Apple’s extremely powerful and flexible remote management solution for Mac systems. In addition to offering support for Mountain Lion, the update also added a couple new features focused around some of Apple’s latest hardware, but no major changes. In fact, one has to wonder why this amazing Mac IT solution has gotten so few updates over the past few years.
Vancouver hotel ditches traditional phones for iPhones – a process that may be easier than you’d think.
The Opus hotel in Vancouver made a somewhat shocking announcement last week. The hotel was ripping the landline phones out of its rooms and replacing them with iPhones. While that seems extravagant, it’s actually a rather brilliant plan.
The hotel, which already offers guests an iPad that can act as a concierge service, points out that offering guests, particularly international guests, an iPhone adds a lot of value. In addition to the value for customers, Apple’s free iOS management tools could make implementing such a program simple and relatively inexpensive – beyond the cost of the iPhones themselves anyway.
Apple Configurator update brings stability and performance improvements, but few new management options.
Apple quietly updated its Apple Configurator utility that businesses and schools can use to manage iOS devices. The update brings with it relatively little new functionality to the free tool. Instead it focuses mainly on reliability and performance improvements. The update does, however, introduce some options for handling user content and user-installed apps.
Apple is offering free webcasts on using iPads, iBooks Author, and iTunes in education
One of the ways that working in education is different from almost any other industries is the annual summer break. The summer break let’s schools and districts tackle large projects in ways that simply aren’t possible in other fields. Deploying a brand-new network, building an expansion, and taking part in professional development programs are just a few examples.
With the end of the school year, Apple is taking the opportunity to remind schools and educators about a free professional development program that it’s offering. Called the Tune In Series, the program is a series of webcast events covering the iPad and many of the technologies that Apple introduced during its education event in January. The series is running every week through the end of August.
JAMF's Casper Suite provides integrated Mac and iOS management
May is Mobile Management Month at Cult of Mac, where we will be profiling a different mobile management company every weekday. You can find all previous entries here and read our Mobile Management manifesto here.
JAMF specializes in Apple management technologies. The company Casper Suite is a full featured Mac client management solution as well as an iOS device management product. Being devoted specifically to Apple technologies, JAMF is able to include features not found in other products at this time including the ability to integrate with Apple’s enterprise sales and warranty system known as GSX, the ability to distribute ebooks to iOS devices, and deployment workflows that integrate with Apple Configurator.
While Casper Suite is an excellent option for organizations that are predominantly or completely Apple-based, organizations with a mix of desktop and mobile platforms may find the product somewhat limiting. In addition to Casper Suite for Mac and iOS management, JAMF also offers Mac enterprise deployment and asset management tools. Finally, it’s worth noting that JAMF offers significant licensing discounts for education institutions implementing Casper Suite.
Apple releases its first update to its Apple Configurator iOS management app
Apple has released the first update for its free iOS Apple Configurator tool. Configurator, which we’ve covered in-depth since its release last month, allows organizations to mass configure and deploy iPads. The software works best as a stand-alone management solution for iOS devices that are shared among multiple users but it can also be part of a wider mobile management strategy.
The update includes a handful of bug fixes as well as a couple or major changes to the ways that Configurator works with app and ebook purchases.